LONDON

Top British health leaders on Wednesday called for a review into the UK’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic so far to make sure the country is prepared for the “real risk” of a second wave.

The experts include the chair of the British Medical Association as well as the presidents of the Royal College of Physicians, Surgeons, GPs, and Nursing.

In an open letter published in the British Medical Journal, they also urged a review into why ethnic minority communities bore a “disproportionate burden” of the pandemic.

The letter called for a review into the UK’s handling of the pandemic thus far, saying it was “crucial” and “needs to happen soon if the public is to have confidence that the virus can be contained.”

This review should “not be about looking back or attributing blame. Rather it should be a rapid and forward-looking assessment of national preparedness, based on an examination of the complex and interrelated policy areas.”

“While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk,” they said.

“Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain,” said the letter.

“The job now is not only to deal urgently with the wide-ranging impacts of the first phase of the pandemic, but to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase.”

The review should also not be limited to one country within the UK or be handled by a parliamentary select committee dominated by one party, they stressed.

Rather, the review should be carried out with “a constructive, non-partisan, four nations approach that could rapidly produce practical recommendations for action, based on what we have all learnt, and without itself becoming a distraction for those at the front line or in government.”

“There’s a strong case for an immediate assessment of national preparedness, with the first results available no later than August, and that all its work should be completed by the end of October,” the letter said.

“The review should not be about looking back or attributing blame,” the letter said. Instead, it should focus on “areas of weakness where action is needed urgently to prevent further loss of life and restore the economy as fully and as quickly as possible.”

During the coronavirus outbreak in the country, nearly 43,000 people have died so far, according to official figures.

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