Impact of Covid-19 related claims on doctors' health and wellbeing must be recognised, says MDU

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) is supporting a call by the think tank IPPR for a support package to protect medical professionals’ health and wellbeing during and after the pandemic.

The Care fit for carers report examines the impact of Covid-19 on the safety and welfare of healthcare workers and concludes that the UK government should adopt five guarantees to support NHS staff.

Last week, the MDU called for doctors to be spared from the stress and anxiety of medical negligence claims following the pandemic and the MDU says claims immunity should be added to the list of guarantees.

Dr Udvitha Nandasoma, MDU acting head of advisory services, said:

"The Covid-19 pandemic has magnified the highly pressurised and stressful working conditions for healthcare professionals to an unprecedented level.

"Many clinicians will be dealing with increased workloads or operating in unfamiliar fields of practice. Added to that are the extra pressures of treating seriously ill patients and the thought of the personal risks to them and their families.

"This creates an environment of extreme stress and anxiety for frontline NHS staff which is recognised in the Care fit for carers report. In addition to the guarantees being suggested, healthcare professionals must also be offered protection from the stress of facing the claims for compensation which may result from the extraordinary efforts they are taking. Such claims may come in many years after the public memory of the sacrifices being made are forgotten and will be a drain on staff time, morale and stretched NHS resources."

In addition to the five core guarantees being demanded by the report (below), the MDU suggests a sixth guarantee of:

  • An immunity from Covid-19 related claims guarantee – healthcare professionals must be accountable for their actions but the unprecedented circumstances in which care was provided must be remembered when investigating medical negligence claims arising from the pandemic.

The five guarantees in IPPR report are:

  • A safety guarantee which would ensure PPE supply to healthcare workers and priority testing.
  • An accommodation guarantee which would provide accommodation as well as housing security to healthcare workers.
  • A mental health guarantee which would involve the government extending priority access to therapy to two million more healthcare professionals.
  • A pay guarantee. The government should guarantee full salary if healthcare workers fall ill. They should also introduce a COVID-19 pay bonus of 10% for 2020/21.
  • More childcare provision and prioritise healthcare professionals' dependants in community support schemes.

This page was correct at publication on 27/04/2020. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.