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Coronavirus update

Once the coronavirus peak has been overcome, NHS organisations should expect the legal challenges to roll in, according to two legal firms that specialise in health and social care.

Speaking to HSJ’s Health Check podcast, two lawyers told listeners there will “inevitably” be a “huge number” of legal challenges against the decisions clinical commissioning groups and providers have made during the course of the pandemic.

The message was clear — NHS organisations should consult on changes as much as they can and create an audit trail of what, when and why decisions were made, including the challenging context in which they were made.

However, as one reader pointed out: “The practical challenge with the record keeping is that knowledge and guidance for us as decision makers is evolving and changing weekly, daily or hourly so being able to evidence what framework was in place on a specific day that a specific decision was taken will be difficult to unpick.”

But as one lawyer put it, such difficult decisions being made so quickly is “not fair on anybody” — and that includes those patients who feel they have come to harm because of commissioning decisions. 

Meanwhile, Paul Deighton has been given the mammoth task of helming personal protective equipment production as the health service battles to get hold of the gowns, masks and gloves it desperately needs.

Lord Deighton is best known for his work organising the London 2012 Olympic Games — a job for which he had years to plan and a team of hundreds of experts to work with.

How successful his handling of the PPE crisis will be remains unknown, but Daily Insight sources question how important a factor PR was in his appointment.