The systemic failings relating to preventable deaths during the pandemic is one of the areas under scrutiny ahead of the COVID-19 Public Inquiry. Coroners in England have highlighted serious failings resulting from strained public and private services which have led to a significant number of deaths that could well have been avoided.

On Sunday evening, the Prime Minister warned of an oncoming “tidal wave” of infections due to the Omicron variant. He described this as an emergency. The Prime Minister also indicated that “all primary care services will now focus on urgent clinical need and vaccines, and some non-urgent appointments…may be postponed”. Whilst the pandemic is not showing any signs of slowing down, the increased emergency protocol only sheds a greater spotlight on preventable deaths.

We shouldn’t lose sight of the consequences of potentially bad political decisions at the expense of individuals in need of healthcare or those who are vulnerable. So far, there have been 16 deaths reportable under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, where coroners are obligated to issue a notice should they believe a death was preventable. Whilst not downplaying the seriousness of the Omicron variant, there must surely be a balance between that and avoiding preventable death. Any serious failures are likely to be scrutinised whether in a Public Inquiry setting or by Coroners.