Medics call for ‘legal immunity’ from civil liability during pandemic
Healthcare workers should be granted “immunity” from civil liability for medical negligence during the coronavirus pandemic, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) has said.
The largest medical defence organisation in the UK, which provides legal support to around 200,000 healthcare workers, said existing government plans to indemnify medics are not sufficient.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 provides additional powers to provide medical negligence indemnity arising from NHS activities related to the COVID-19 outbreak where there is no existing indemnity arrangement in place.
However, the MDU has warned this approach will lead to massive costs for the UK government while still exposing medics to “extremely distressing” and career-damaging hearings, The Guardian reports.
Chief executive Dr Christine Tomkins said: “Our practitioners are being asked to work in conditions that are drastically changed. We have not received any claims yet but we aware of some complaints about treatment of patients.
“This could be a very great drain on healthcare resources. It would take money from frontline services. We want to have sensible debate about it. It’s for society to decide whether it’s proper in such wholly exceptional circumstances.”
She added: “Doctors are having to work in very difficult circumstances. These are people who, very bravely, are working to the best of their ability. It should not be underestimated how distressing allegations of clinical negligence are for doctors.”