Part II: Will criminal prosecutions follow the health sector response to the coronavirus pandemic?

Published on
2 min read

Samuel Lindsay and Duncan Astill revisit earlier discussion about whether healthcare professionals should be concerned about criminal prosecutions in light of the current pandemic and the Government’s decision not to consider a new statutory defence.

In June of 2020, we offered our view on concerns that healthcare professionals may face criminal liability as a result of decisions made under pressure during the pandemic. At the time, the country was managing the first wave of coronavirus cases, and demand on frontline services was expected to overwhelm supply. 

Six months on and the third wave has brought unprecedented pressure to bear on NHS services.  In November, Boris Johnson, declared publically that the NHS could be overwhelmed, and that doctors and nurses would be “forced to choose which patients to treat, who would live and who would die.” A rapid rise in the number of infections forced a new national lockdown in December, and data published by NHS England put the daily count of confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospital on 18 January at 39,181, a new high, and almost double the figure from the height of the first wave in April 2020.[1] 

As a result of the current lockdown, that number is now trending downward, but it is not an exaggeration to say that NHS services remain stretched to breaking point.

Read the full article on the journal of mHealth

You can also access Samuel and Duncan's first article on this topic here

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