Post Covid-19 – how will this affect litigation and regulatory work in the social care sphere?

It’s impossible at the moment to predict the future as our normal way of life is disrupted in every area due to Covid-19.  However once life returns to normal, be that in weeks or months from now, what sort of issues might we see arising in litigation arising in social care?

The first and most obvious point is that the claims market will likely see a significant upsurge.  At the moment prospective claimants will probably not see making a claim for damages as a top priority.

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Coronavirus Bill: health & care practitioners

The Coronavirus Bill announced yesterday will introduce a number of emergency measures to respond to the continuing spread of COVID-19 and the increasing pressures on the provisions of care and services.

The bill addresses a number of areas relevant to health and care practitioners, including the following:

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Covid-19 update for the care sector – official guidance and measures to protect vulnerable persons in social care

In the last few days further measures have been implemented by the CQC and Department of Health and Social care to protect the most vulnerable in society who are in receipt of social care.  The official guidance can be found here. It has been separated into specific areas of residential living, home care and supported living provisions.  The guidance includes points such as:

  • Encouraging care services providers to work with local authorities to share information and plan
  • Policies in place for outside visitors to minimise transmission
  • How to deal with a suspected case of Covid-19 in residents

Some residential settings have taken matters further by banning all outside visitors.  This has been a controversial decision as some commentators think it is crucial to “flatten the curve” of infection, whilst others think this would be detrimental to residents’ well being.  This is explored further in a Guardian article here.

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Carers UK highlight contribution made by women to the unpaid care sector on International Women’s Day

It’s well recognised that the social care sector in the UK is struggling under financial constraints and lack of resources mean that claims against homes and care providers are more likely.  Yesterday (8 March 2020) was International Women’s Day.  Carers UK, which is a UK based charity that supports unpaid carers, published an article highlighting 10 facts about the role women play in unpaid care.

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Guidance issued by public bodies for social care providers on Coronavirus

Guidance has been issued today to Social Care stakeholders regarding the Coronavirus/Covid19.

Many social care clients and residents will be elderly or medically vulnerable, thus deemed the most at risk from Coronavirus.

The CQC notes that it will seek to focus its activity on where there is the greatest risk to quality of care, as well as being flexible in terms of preparation and requirements for inspections.  In some cases inspections may be postponed at short notice.

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Counting the cost of mistakes in healthcare – human, financial and political

The scale of the financial provision required for clinical negligence claims, in particular birth injuries, brought against the NHS, has hit the headlines again. For 2019/2020, NHS Resolution needs to collect £718.7 million from its member trusts, just to pay out on maternity cases.

The big numbers referenced by the BBC recently following a Freedom of Information Act request are in fact, readily available to view on the NHS Resolution website, as are the positive steps it is taking to ensure that the biggest claims, i.e. adverse birth outcomes are reported and investigated early, with incentives for trusts to ensure that learning is identified and implemented. All cases are reviewed from a patient safety perspective; with the aim to reduce risk of recurrence and thereby the number of claims.

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