Covid-19 update: second two-monthly report on provisions of Coronavirus Act 2020

The Department of Health and Social Care published its second bi-monthly report at the end of July on the status of the non-devolved provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The status report forms part of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s requirement to facilitate accountability and transparency over the use of the substantive powers in the Act under Part 1. It includes a statement from the Secretary of State confirming the appropriateness of the provisions of the Act. There is also a statement confirming that no regulations so far have been made to change the expiry date under section 90 of the Act.

Status table as at 31 July

Currently no provisions have been suspended or revived during the reporting period but there are updates in a few key areas which we highlight below. You can view the table here.

Temporary modifications to mental health and mental capacity legislation

To date, these provisions have not been needed in England. Mental health services have made arrangements to adapt service approaches, for example use of video for medical assessments. The report says that “Government has worked closely with NHSE/I to monitor service pressures and to create a direct route for local area requests for commencement to be considered.”

Local authority care and support

Eight local authorities have operated under Care Act easements since commencement of the Act. All of these have now ceased.

NHS Continuing Healthcare

The temporary suspension of assessments will come to an end on 1 September following the publication of the letter from Sir Simon Stevens and Amanda Pritchard, Third Phase of NHS response to COVID-19, dated 3 August.

Temporary continuity: education, training and childcare

The Secretary of State has issued notices (applying in May, June and July) to temporarily modify the duty to secure or arrange provision specified in Education, Health and Care plans to give local authorities, health commissioning bodies, education settings and other partners more flexibility in responding to the demands placed on them by the coronavirus.

Registration of deaths and still-births

Similarly the provisions have helped to ensure deaths are quickly registered and the easements on the requirements of certifying practitioners have enabled the medial service to be more flexible, including preventing the coronial service from being overwhelmed with referrals.

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