How fit were public services for coronavirus?


This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at how prepared services like the NHS, schools and police, were for the pandemic.

Failures in planning and funding cuts meant public services were not well prepared to handle the coronavirus crisis. This report, produced in partnership with the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy, sets out an assessment of how prepared and resilient public services, such as the NHS, schools and the police, were for the pandemic. The report’s ‘fitness ratings’ chart shows important gaps in emergency plans, with the government failing to learn lessons from Exercise Cygnus, the last major exercise to prepare for a pandemic. Public services have also been constrained by a decade of budget pressure in which their scope and quality declined, staff became more stretched, buildings weren’t maintained, and vital equipment went unbought. While all services benefited from the existence of emergency plans and command structures, these varied greatly in detail, focus and adaptability. The report says serious questions must be answered about whether these services could and should have been better prepared and more resilient.

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