United Kingdom: Future Pandemics Debate

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Department: Department of Health and Social Care

United Kingdom: Future Pandemics

Lord Browne of Ladyton Excerpts
Monday 16th January 2023

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I was just about to confirm that it is the turn of the noble Lord, Lord Browne.

Lord Browne of Ladyton Portrait Lord Browne of Ladyton (Lab)
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My Lords, I am sure that the Minister is aware that it took repeated FoI requests from an NHS doctor to get the Government in 2021 to reveal that they had carried out Exercise Alice in 2016, which was designed to recognise the challenges should a coronavirus hit our shores. The report, redacted when published, revealed shortages of PPE, no plans for pandemic-related travel restrictions, and a failure to have a working contact-tracing system—all of which we had to improvise when it actually happened. Is the department carrying out similar exercises? Is it producing solutions, not just identifying problems? Will the Government publish these reports, so that the public can see what needs to be done to prepare this country?

Lord Markham Portrait Lord Markham (Con)
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As previously mentioned, there were many things that we did not get right. The whole reason that we set up the UK Health Security Agency was because we were not happy with the response in some areas. That agency was set up with a team of experts to make sure that, learning from those lessons, we are properly prepared for all eventualities next time around. There are lessons to learn but, as the Covid inquiry will show, there were also many things that we did right. It is important that we have that balance.