30 April, 2020
Married doctors, Dr Meenal Viz (a clinical fellow) and Dr Nishant Joshi (a GP trainee), who are both employed by the NHS, have launched a legal challenge over the guidance by the government on personal protective equipment (PPE), as they say it has exposed them to Covid-19.
The Guardian reports that the couple, who are also expecting their first child, argue that the NHS guidance introduced on 17th April, that permitted medical staff to wear plastic aprons with coveralls when full-length gowns run out, breached international standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as domestic legislation on health and safety at work.
A formal letter before action has been sent to Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care seeking a response by Monday 4th May. The letter argues that guidance is unclear, has resulted in inconsistent practices across NHS trusts and fails to make clear that healthcare workers have a right to refuse to work without adequate PPE.
Dr Joshi told The Guardian he hoped the challenge would not have to go to court and he welcomed the latest comments from the health secretary, Matt Hancock, as a first acknowledgment that "the guidelines are based on resources. There was a shortage [of PPE] and the government has not been transparent about why they engaged British manufacturers."
There are also concerns over the vulnerability of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) to Covid-19, as the first 10 doctors in the UK named as having died due to the virus were all BAME. The challenge says healthcare workers are being exposed to a greater risk of contracting Covid-19 and maintains that the guidance fails to address the heightened risks faced by BAME healthcare workers.
We will keep our website updated on the progress of the challenge but if you have any concerns in relation to any medical care you have received before or during the pandemic and would like to speak to someone then please contact the Clinical Negligence team on 01254 872 111 to discuss the matter further. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.