On 21st July 2022, the Chair of the Inquiry, Baroness Heather Hallett, gave her opening statement for the Covid Inquiry. In this statement, which you can watch here, Lady Hallett announced that the Inquiry will take a modular approach. This simply means that the Inquiry will be split into modules that will each look at specific issues that have arisen during the pandemic.
This approach has some benefits, the main benefit being the Chair will issue reports and recommendations at the end of every module. This also allows the Chair to keep a close eye on whether those recommendations have been put in place as the Inquiry continues.
What is a module?
A module is a specific segment or phase of an inquiry. It sets strict parameters for shall and shall not be considered and investigated at that time. For example, Module 1 will strictly look at the Government's preparedness and resilience to the Coronavirus pandemic. This means that within the set parameters of Module 1, the resources of the investigation will be solely focused on this area. With so much to cover in the Inquiry, this approach gives structure and allows no stone left unturned.
Inquiries are hugely important for holding decision makers accountable and learning lessons for the future. One major downside of inquiries, however, is that the recommendations the come as a result of the investigations do not have to be implemented. Splitting an inquiry into modules, however, is an increasingly popular way to combat this, as can be seen with the Manchester Arena Inquiry and the Grenfell Inquiry.
How many modules will there be?
It is unknown how many Modules there will be in total at this stage, however there are currently three active Modules and a further three Modules were announced by the Chair on 30th May 2023.
The active modules
- Module 1 - the UK’s pandemic preparedness and resilience (public hearings on 13 June 2023)
- Module 2 - core political and administrative decision making in the UK and devolved administrations (public hearings begin October 2023)
- Module 3 - the impact of the pandemic on healthcare systems (public hearings expected to begin in 2024)
Upcoming modules and timeline
- Module 4 will examine vaccines, therapeutics, and anti-viral treatment across the UK. The Inquiry plans to hear evidence for this investigation in the summer of 2024. The scope for Module 4 will be published on the Inquiry website on 5 June, when this Module will open, with the Core Participant application window being open from 5 June to 30 June 2023.
- Module 5 will examine Government Procurement across the UK. The Inquiry will open this investigation in October 2023, with evidence hearings scheduled for early 2025. The Core Participant application window will be open from 24 October 2023 to 17 November 2023.
- Module 6 will examine the care sector across the UK and will open in December. The Core Participant application window will be open from 12 December 2023 to 19 January 2024. Public hearings will begin in spring 2025.
When each of the new Modules open, the Inquiry will then release further details such as the scope of the investigation and details on how to apply to be a Core Participant. The Inquiry also plans to announce the next 12 months’ investigations in early 2024.
This page will be updated as more details of future modules are announced. The Inquiry is aiming to complete public hearings by summer 2026.