COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. In the United Kingdom, after extensive criticism across different sectors of society regarding government inaction and ineffective policies – as well as piecemeal communication about possible measures relating to citizens over age 70 to maintain social distancing for a period of months – HM Government announced on 15 March that daily press conferences will be held “…to keep the public informed on how to protect themselves”. As for first responders and other professionals who find themselves at the front line of the battle to delay the spread of the virus, guidance is available, but its accessibility and absence of detail is worrying, as a cursory look at the official website will reveal. Importantly for this blog, the Department of Health and Social Care’s Coronavirus Action Plan makes no mention whatsoever of the legal position underpinning any of its initiatives. So, in this blog I ask: Are law and human rights also prey to the impact of the COVID-19 virus?
In a guest post for the Professional Standards Authority blog, Annie Sorbie, Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics, and Zahra Jaffer, PhD candidate at the Mason Institute, discuss that momentum needs to be maintained on embedding the professional duty of candour in healthcare professionals, but we also need to widen the lens beyond individual interactions and direct attention to the wider context in which healthcare is provided.
As part of the Festival of Creative Learning (FCL), we hosted the event: The Dissection of Medical Dramas. This interactive workshop used popular television medical dramas and role-play to identify and discuss the relevant ethical issues that arise in the medical context. The workshop specifically focused on issues of consent and the provision of treatment.
When hunting for a topic for my Dissertation, I went from ‘research ethics’ to ‘research misconduct’ and eventually cases of medical research fraud that had been treated criminally in the US. Although there have also been calls for greater criminalization in the UK, little has been written about how the criminal law may actually be applied in this context. People were saying we should probably prosecute researchers such as Wakefield but no one seemed to know or wanted to know how to go about it. I thought I would examine the knowledge gap.