NHS Long Term Plan Webinar Series
COVID-19: Litigation in the Time of a Pandemic
The Impact of Coronavirus on Medical Negligence Claims
TBC April 2020
13:00 - GMT
Action against Medical Accidents
Director of Safety and Learning
We are in very difficult times and NHS staff are coping heroically under tremendous pressures. The Government has also responded positively with a raft of initiatives designed to help the NHS cope with the crisis.
In COVID-19 we have seen initiatives such as the nurses and doctors returning from retirement, nursing, medical, students, volunteers going to the NHS. These are all innovative and good ways to help the current situation. There are however legal implications involved here. A patient might subsequently argue that a training nurse or doctor negligently caused them injury through their inexperience, they missed for example some key symptoms or did not properly refer them to a more senior colleague or essential tests did not take place.
We aren't living in normal times and all sorts of new and essential measures are taking place in the NHS to make sure that we can handle the COVID-19 crisis properly. The NHS is facing enormous challenges and staff are making heroic efforts.
Some people may feel that they or their loved ones were treated improperly during the crisis and seek redress, raising the spectre of litigation. Patient safety and the spectre of litigation will not go away. Patients who have suffered negligent harm have a moral and legal right to sue for compensation. This right should never be compromised. However, a key issue remains of what happens when the patient's harm did not occur in normal times, but in the COVID-19 crisis? That the harm has occurred in a crisis is likened to a war zone.