The Department of Health issued a press release confirming that families of health and care workers on the frontline in England will benefit from a new life assurance scheme during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Details of the scheme, which were first published on 27 April, are now beginning to become clearer.
The Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) guidance in respect of RIDDOR and COVID-19 presents a significant challenge to those responsible for reporting within a care setting. Care providers are understandably concerned that notifying the HSE of a non-reportable incident could result in an unnecessary HSE investigation. Some care providers are also concerned that a notification under RIDDOR may be construed as an admission of responsibility should a criminal and/or civil action be pursued.
On 11 June 2020, the Chief Coroner published his Guidance No 38, ‘Remote Participation in Coronial Proceedings via Video and Audio Broadcast’. This guidance builds upon Guidance No 35 dealing with hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic which we have commented on in previous blogs.
Since the lockdown began most inquests have been postponed, with coroners opening inquests and holding documentary inquests where no witnesses are called to give evidence.
The current pandemic has seen the increase in use of partially remote hearings where the court is satisfied that it is just to do so.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provided guidance on when deaths from COVID-19 or instances of COVID-19 should be reported to it. The HSE emphasised RIDDOR reports were only required in relation to employees where a death had occurred as a result of occupational exposure to COVID-19 or a person had contracted COVID-19 in the workplace. When deciding on whether a RIDDOR report is required, a “responsible person” within the organisation should make an informed decision on whether a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 is likely to have been due to exposure at work.
In the past few months, one of the dominant news stories has been that of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social care sector. This has mostly focused upon the issues surrounding elderly care.
However, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has this week published an analysis regarding deaths of persons with a learning disability and/or autism. The analysis is based upon notifications from providers registered with the CQC where the death certificate indicates the deceased had a learning disability. This shows in the period 10 April to 15 May there was a 134% increase in deaths in comparison to the same period in 2019.
Our recent blogs have consistently focused on this developing saga as COVID-19 continues and as we as a nation compare ourselves to our counterparts, we are increasingly coming up short. There is a stark message coming through that our most vulnerable have been forgotten: the elderly in care homes, the detained in mental health units and those with learning disabilities.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) established the Emergency Support Framework (ESF) to ensure the CQC could continue to practice its regulatory function in maintaining safety across health and social care settings. Although all routine inspections are currently on hold, the CQC aims to use the ESF for the purpose of collating information and intelligence from a number of sources to assist the CQC with issues such as monitoring risk, identifying where support is required and delivering safe care.
During yesterday’s daily Downing Street briefing, Matt Hancock was asked by the BBC about his party’s election manifesto promises concerning social care reform.
Prior to the December general election, the Conservative party manifesto promised to reform social care. Matt Hancock was asked at the briefing yesterday by the BBC whether the government was still planning a cap on care fees that have to be met directly, and whether he accepted that social care reform could not be put off again.
On 20 May 2020, the CQC published its first COVID-19 Insight document, said to be the first of its regular discussion documents on key issues affecting health and care.
The full document can be found here.
On 6 May it was announced that five residents had died at a care home on the Scottish island of Skye at the centre of a COVID-19 (C-19) outbreak on the island. 57 residents and staff at this care home have tested positive for C-19. Ten deaths have also recently been reported at a care home in East Dunbartonshire.
Statistics from the National Records of Scotland show that by Sunday 3 May there had been 2,795 deaths in Scotland where C-19 is mentioned on a death certificate. More than four in ten of those deaths (42.8%) have been in care homes. The proportion of deaths in care homes has also been growing, accounting for almost 60% of C-19 deaths between 27 April and 3 May.