Government Faces Questions Over Exercise Cygnus

The Guardian newspaper has published the Exercise Cygnus document, a simulation carried out in 2016 to measure how prepared the country was for a pandemic, which the Government had refused to publish. 950 people had been involved in the simulation across numerous branches of Government in a bid to measure how organisations and departments would react.

Matt Hancock (above), the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, rejected publishing the document but gave an assurance that he had implemented all of the report’s recommendations, saying:

“I asked my officials to go back when this first came up in the press a few weeks ago and check that everything that was recommended was done and that’s the assurance that I got”.

One of the conclusions of the report was:

“The UK’s preparedness and response, in terms of its plans, policies and capability, is currently not sufficient to cope with the extreme demands of a severe pandemic that will have a nationwide impact across all sectors”.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Social Care Minister, said in a statement:

“The report on Exercise Cygnus provided clear warnings that we were not properly prepared for a pandemic. In particular it highlights that local plans for social care were inadequate and that social care services wouldn’t be able to cope with the number of people discharged from hospitals to ensure the NHS had enough beds to meet demand.

“These warnings have now proved all too sadly true as the unfolding tragedy in our care homes shows. Care providers confirm they were not involved in subsequent discussions on how to put these problems right. Ministers must be clear about why they failed to act on the report’s recommendations and what they will now do to fully protect and resource these vital services in future.”