Professional bodies seek justice for healthcare workers at Covid Inquiry
1 March 2023
The COVID-19 Airborne Transmission Alliance (CATA), which comprises a group of leading healthcare professional bodies and experts representing 64,000 healthcare workers, has been granted core participant status in Module 3 of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.
The Queen’s Nursing Institute, as a key member of CATA, will therefore be able to directly represent the views of nurses working in many fields of practice in the community who were directly affected by the lack of regard to their protection by the then UK government, the guidance it issued, as well as wider systemic failures to consider the impact of the pandemic for nurses working in community settings. This included (but was not limited to) the failure to support nurses working in care homes caring for patients discharged from hospital with Covid19, and managing infection control more generally in care home environments; adult and children’s community nurses who became two of the few frontline home visiting services that continued to operate with limited supplies of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
CATA was formed as a response to the UK Covid-19 inquiry by the COVID Airborne Protection Alliance (CAPA). CAPA itself was originally known as the Aerosol Generating Procedures Alliance (AGPA) and formed in August 2020, due to concerns organisations and individuals had on then UK Government policy. AGPA changed its name to CAPA in September 2021.
The coalition has campaigned relentlessly to protect healthcare workers and their patients from both catching and transmitting the virus. The lack of acceptance of airborne COVID-19 transmission by the Government has led to dangerous policies, decisions and practices that deprived healthcare workers of the correct Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and put them and their patients at risk of illness and death.
CATA will seek to ensure that its knowledge of the existing and developing scientific evidence base for the aerosol transmission of COVID-19, its understanding of the legal framework, and the lived experiences of its members, are made available to the Inquiry. In addition, it seeks to also address wider concerns about the effective management and impact of respiratory risks in healthcare across acute and community settings through the pandemic.
As core participants, CATA has appointed Saunders Law to represent it at the Inquiry.
The QNI is a committed member of CATA is looking forward, through CATA, to being a direct voice for the community nurses the QNI represents. So often during the pandemic it was community nurses working on the frontline in care homes, GP surgeries, community adult and children’s nursing services who continued to deliver complex nursing care in non-clinical environments 24 hours a day, but who were often overlooked by the UK government at the time.Crystal Oldman CBE, QNI Chief Executive
We are looking forward to supporting the 4 nation Inquiry as a core participant in Module 3. We will be highlighting our core concerns around the failure to recognise the airborne route and its proper mitigation across all healthcare settings.Barry Jones, CATA Chair and Chair of BAPEN Faculty
CATA represents a wide range of healthcare workers, experts and patients, who have often been ignored by the Government in the pandemic. We have fought for so long for the safety of others and this feels like the final hurdle to being heard. Our primary aim all along has been to protect those on the frontline, and we look forward to making our case for change.Kamini Gadhok MBE, CATA Vice Chair and Chief Executive of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
Saunders Law is pleased to be supporting both CATA and the Covid Inquiry through our involvement representing CATA as a core participant. We are committed to ensuring that the Inquiry appreciates and adequately investigates CATA’ core concern about the fundamental importance of Covid 19 being transmitted by an airborne route, and the implications that this has had, or should have had, in the UK’s response to the pandemic.Cyrilia Knight, Partner at Saunders Law and Head of Public Inquiries
Notes to Editors
CATA is a voluntary and collaborative forum of professional organisations and healthcare charities representing over 65,000 members. It also includes several experts in their respective fields.
Organisations CATA represents include Association for Respiratory Technology & Physiology, British Association for Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition, British and Irish Association of Stroke Physicians, British Dietetic Association, British Occupational Hygiene Society, British Society of Gastroenterology, College of Paramedics, Doctors Association UK, National Nurses’ Nutrition Group, Patient Safety Learning, Queen’s Nursing Institute (representing Community Nurses), and Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
Aerosol transmission can occur when small respiratory aerosols containing the virus remain in the air and can be inhaled by another person. This puts healthcare workers at particularly high risk when caring for infectious patients or service-users.
Head of Communications, The Queen’s Nursing Institute