This short briefing details the measures included in the Coronavirus Bill, presented before parliament on 19 March, which will have an impact on health and social care. The bill follows the government’s four-stage strategy to tackle the outbreak released on 3 March and seeks to enable public bodies to effectively respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The bill aims to enable the following:
- Increase workforce capacity by enabling regulators to emergency register recently retired professionals, without repercussion on their pensions and students at the end of their training.
- Provide indemnity for clinical negligence liabilities arising from NHS activities carried out for the purposes of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
- Enable existing mental health legislation powers to alter requirements for detaining and treating patients, and allow expansion or removal of time limits to provide greater flexibility.
- Make changes to the Care Act 2014 in England and the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 to enable local authorities to prioritise the services they offer, in order to ensure the most urgent and serious care needs are met.
- Lift administrative requirements for early and quick discharge of patients, allowing greater focus on patients in most need.
- Introduce equivalent legal measures across the UK to delay and prevent the further transmission of the virus.
- Allow volunteers in the NHS to pause their main job to care for patients, without employment ramifications.
The bill can be found on the UK Parliament website.