MPs call on UK government to form committee on pandemic litigation
A group of MPs has called on the UK government to establish an expert committee detailing legal guidance on fairly dealing with legal claims arising out of the pandemic.
Led by Dr Philippa Whitford MP, the SNP’s health spokesperson, the group is working with medical defence organisation MDDUS.
The calls come as doctors fear they will be faced with unfair trials and proceedings stemming from the current crisis.
Dr Whitford said: “At the moment everyone is aware of the stress and challenge faced by NHS staff, but that memory will fade.
“It is important that the exceptional circumstances of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic are not forgotten when using hindsight to judge medical decisions or actions.
“An advisory committee could lay out specific guidance to achieve a fair balance between protecting patients’ rights and taking into account the situation in which doctors were having to work.
“While the advanced planning for a pandemic was rather limited, we owe it to all our frontline clinicians – especially those who have had to make difficult decisions about patient treatment – to plan well for its aftermath.”
MDDUS CEO Chris Kenny added: “I have already written to the UK’s senior law officers urging them to direct courts to take into account the unique circumstances of COVID-19 during any related criminal claim against healthcare professionals.
“I am very encouraged that MPs support the principle of an independent, expert advisory committee. I look to ministers to take forward this as a matter of urgency as they plan for the aftermath of COVID-19.”