Clinical Negligence –v- COVID19 “Testing times”

It goes without saying that the NHS is under immense pressure due to the COVID19 virus and in the last few weeks, we as a nation have seen the government take drastic action by confining us to our homes in a “lockdown” status. This is in an attempt to help alleviate the pressures on the NHS, prevent the daily rising death toll and further prevent the spread of COVID19.

The urgent bill passed by parliament in March 2020 contains a provision stating that any COVID19 cases will be exempt from any negligence lawsuit. But does this apply to treatment and care provided in and around COVID19?
In short, the answer is no.

Despite the pressures on the NHS at the present time, they still owe a duty of care to many patients that are unaffected by COVID19 but perhaps are affected by another medical issue. Urgent referrals and procedures are meant to continue where possible. However, with the daily COVID19 pressures, these services are likely to be affected, which can and will cause a delay in treatment. The impact of such a delay, regardless of a global pandemic, can be damning for an individual and lead to devastating consequences. It is in these circumstances that a claim could be brought against the NHS.

Is it likely medical experts will support negligence cases that have occurred during these times? It is too early to say at this stage. However, each medical expert is to provide their opinion based on the law of negligence i.e. what would a competent body of medical practitioners have done?

If you would like to discuss any element of the above, or any other clinical negligence issue, please contact Clare Gooch (c.gooch@srb.co.uk) on 020 8891 6141.

Clare Gooch