Systemic negligence and NHS hospitals: An underutilised argument

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The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has caused National Health Service (NHS) frontline operations to be stretched to near breaking point. Despite coming under immense pressure, the service held firm at the height of the crisis thanks to heroic efforts on the part of all the healthcare professionals concerned. All those involved should be commended for their excellent response. Nevertheless, concerns have recently been expressed that in the wake of the emergency, an influx of clinical negligence claims may arise. Even though the Coronavirus Act 2020 stipulates that arrangements can be made to indemnify individual healthcare professionals against Covid-19 related adverse incidents, negligence’s tendency towards apportioning blame to individuals does not always sit comfortably when applied to medical errors, particularly in these unprecedented circumstances. It is for that reason that the Medical Defence Union (MDU) has called for a debate on whether healthcare professionals should be granted immunity from any claim arising out of the response to the pandemic, although whether this would be desirable, and indeed is necessary, has been contested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-465
Number of pages29
JournalKing's Law Journal
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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