12 February 2021 – NHS Non-Executive Directors webinar

12 February 2021

This week’s session opened in conversation with special guest Elkan Abrahamson, non-executive director at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust. Elkan has a legal background, specialising in childcare law and human rights and latterly in major inquiries and inquests, including representing families at the Hillsborough inquest.

Elkan identified three main areas of risk to arise due to the pandemic: giving COVID-19 to those who enter hospitals, misdiagnosis and delayed treatment, and the transfer of patients to and from care homes. He said trusts must be aware of these risks and proactively put in measures to mitigate them.

He said: “Trusts can put into place pre-COVID procedures and assurance processes, ensuring they make a clear record that they made their best efforts in this regard. For example, infection in hospital already has pre-COVID protocols, as does challenging treatment decisions; these will not change too much in the pandemic.”

Also overheard during the webinar:

“Interestingly, the UK government has just received an as-yet unpublished report on judicial review – potentially leading to legislation to put more constraints on who can seek judicial review to quash a decision, mandate a decision or seek a declaration as to its validity, when, how, at what cost and for what reason.”

“One of the interesting issues here is that there are different agencies and causes of action involved. So the HSE could take action in relation to duty of care to staff, while an individual patient might seek a remedy in clinical negligence and CQC might issue a warning notice if trust is in breach of a regulation that they enforce.”

“Is there a legal hierarchy that a court would recognise in terms of the duty of care to patients, staff and other affected parties? Instinctively, the NHS’s purpose is to protect patients, so one might assume that the duty of care to the patient might be most compelling; but would a court recognise such a hierarchy?”

These meetings are by invitation and are open to all NHS non-executives directors, chairs and associate non-executive directors of NHS providers. Others may attend by special invitation. For further details, visit our website https://www.good-governance.org.uk/events/.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about these webinars, please contact: events@good-governance.org.uk