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There must be a public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Health Ombudsman has said.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), which deals with unresolved NHS complaints in England, has said it is vital that lessons are learned from any mistakes made in the handling of the crisis.

It has written to the Government asking it to establish what future inquiries or reviews will take place.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens has encouraged people to tell the NHS and other public bodies if they have concerns about the service they received or bring their complaint to the PHSO if it is not resolved.

Mr Behrens said it was important that “lessons are learned”.

Complaints are not about criticising healthcare workers, the Ombudsman said (PA)

“Complaining when something has gone wrong should not be about criticising doctors, nurses or other frontline public servants, who have often been under extraordinary pressure dealing with the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

“It is about identifying where things have gone wrong systemically and making sure lessons are learned so mistakes are not repeated.”

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) also called for lessons to be learnt from the pandemic to save lives in the future.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, said: “Our NHS was lacking many of the crucial things it needed to cope with this crisis, not least a shortage of PPE and training for staff to use it.

The inquiry would be about ‘learning lessons’ (NHS Nightingale London)

“The RCM and other Royal Colleges had to step in to ensure people – from staff to pregnant women – had the most up-to-date information and advice when the Government was slow to act.

“The virus also hit our black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, including NHS staff and pregnant women, harder. We have got to quickly learn from this pandemic and prepare for the future so that we can save lives that should not be lost.”

The PHSO, which paused its work on NHS complaints on March 26 to enable it to focus on Covid-19, will reopen this part of the service on Wednesday.

It said emerging complaints had centred around cancelled cancer treatments and people being given the wrong Covid-19 test results.

Ombudsman Behrens added: “Despite my repeated calls since taking office, the Government has failed to provide me with the powers available to most other national ombudsman around the world to launch an investigation without first receiving a complaint.

“It’s really important, therefore, that if people have concerns about the service they have experienced they do complain to the public body and then come to my office if needed. Otherwise other people may experience the same failings.”

Earlier this month, 27 medical and scientific experts wrote a letter warning many more Britons may die if a second wave hits at the end of the year.

It warned the Government is without “quick, practical solutions to some of the structural problems that have made implementing an effective (coronavirus) response so difficult”.