A HEREFORDSHIRE doctor has criticised the Government's "dithering and delaying" after a damning report from MPs said it cost lives.

Simon Lennane, a GP based at Alton Street Surgery in Ross-on-Wye, said Covid-19 had "predominantly affected the poor and oppressed", siding with the cross-party report criticising the preparation for pandemics

Dr Lennane, who helped organise the coronavirus vaccine rollout in the south of the county, said Covid disproportionately affected people of ethnic minority, "as we showed among healthcare staff", with the report notinng "unacceptably high" death rates among the groups.

He said "lessons learned" section of the cross-party report, published earlier this week, highlighted the failures of the UK response.

"Social care, as ever, was ignored," he said, with the report saying that the decision not to test people discharged from hospitals to care homes early on was a failure and led to deaths.

"The centralised operation failed to engage the local public health expertise of DPHs (directors of public health).

"The report is scathing about the initial government response, as indeed we all were at the time.

"Dithering and delaying crucial decisions let the virus spread unchecked, leading to both economic harm and huge impacts on health."

Dr Lennane finished by saying it was "no wonder the UK fared so badly", despite the "amazing" efforts by communities and all health, social care, and key workers.

The damning report from MPs said serious errors and delays at the hands of the Government and scientific advisers cost lives during the pandemic.

The study, from the cross-party Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee, said the UK's preparation for a pandemic was far too focused on flu, while ministers waited too long to push through lockdown measures in early 2020.

In a wide-ranging report, MPs said the UK's pandemic planning was too "narrowly and inflexibly based on a flu model" that failed to learn the lessons from Sars, Mers and Ebola.

The UK's national risk register, which was in place at the start of the pandemic, said "the likelihood of an emerging infectious disease spreading within the UK is assessed to be lower than that of a pandemic flu".

It also said only up to 100 people may die during any outbreak of an emerging infectious disease.

The MPs said the "decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic - and the advice that led to them - rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced".

In other criticisms in the 151-page report, MPs said the UK also implemented "light-touch border controls" only on countries with high Covid rates, even though 33 per cent of cases during the first wave were introduced from Spain and 29 per cent from France.

They also argued that earlier social distancing and locking down "would have bought much-needed time" for vaccine research to bear fruit, for Covid treatments to be developed and for a proper test and trace system to be set up.

Furthermore, there was a false belief that the public would not accept lockdown, or would only do so for a short period of time.

The lack of testing capacity also meant there was nowhere near enough data on Covid spread, while abandoning community testing on March 12 was regarded by MPs as a "seminal failure".

Elsewhere, MPs said that thousands of elderly people died in care homes during the first wave of the pandemic, something that showed "social care had a less prominent voice in Government during the early stages of the pandemic than did the NHS".

Across the board, the report criticised a national failure to share data between central and local government, adding that the NHS was squeezed due to shortages of staff.

But MPs offered praise in two areas – treatments and vaccines saying ministers were "correct to identify that a vaccine would be the long-term route out of the pandemic" and supported research and development.

A Government spokesman said: "Throughout the pandemic we have been guided by scientific and medical experts and we never shied away from taking quick and decisive action to save lives and protect our NHS, including introducing restrictions and lockdowns.

"Thanks to a collective national effort, we avoided NHS services becoming overwhelmed and our phenomenal vaccination programme has built a wall of defence, with over 24.3 million infections prevented and more than 130,000 lives saved so far.

"As the Prime Minister has said, we are committed to learning lessons from the pandemic and have committed to holding a full public inquiry in spring."