by Oliver Quick, Co-Director, Centre for Health, Law and Society, University of Bristol Law School
Healthcare harm is a global public health problem. The World Health Organisation estimates that adverse events account for more deaths than either lung cancer, diabetes or road injuries, and that around 80% are avoidable. In low- and middle- income countries,poor quality healthcare accounts for 10-15% of deaths annually. Such statistics are striking if slightly simplistic in that unsafe care combines with pre-existing health conditions and diseases, and avoidabilityassessments are likely based on ideal, rather than real world, conditions. However, in England alone, the additional annual financial costof providing further care to harmedpatientswould equate to employing over 2,000 salaried GPs and 3,500 hospital nurses, much needed given the high number of vacant positions in the NHS workforce.The annual cost of compensating and managing maternity negligence cases(£2.1 billion) now exceeds the amount spent on delivering babies (£1.9 billion.) Remarkably, there remains no coherent cross-government strategy and policy to address these spiralling costs. (more…)
The National Audit Office’s Report on its ‘Investigation into government procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic’ found that the relaxation of the standard procurement rules to allow for extremely urgent acquisitions, mainly of PPE, resulted in alarmingly widespread levels of procedural impropriety in the award of up to £18bn in public contracts. Most notably, the NAO report revealed the existence of a ‘VIP procurement channel’ for those with political connections, which resulted in much higher chances of obtaining very lucrative contracts than for those retained under the ‘normal’ pool of potential suppliers. This adds to (and partly explains) earlier reports of very large PPE contracts awarded to companies with no proven track record in the PPE market. (more…)
Legal and policy responses to COVID-19 rest on and express the balance of different basic values and principles. Earlier and current regulatory approaches bring into sharp relief how liberty must be understood and weighed against other values. This is for the sake of liberty itself, but crucially too for other compelling aspects of social justice.
Emergency powers and pandemic ethics
COVID-19 is a global problem, albeit one that governments across the world have been approaching differently. Over the past weeks we have seen fast changes in policies as different countries have sought to anticipate and respond to the extraordinary scale of the challenges that we face and which lie ahead. (more…)
Scholars at the University of Bristol Law School have enjoyed a longstanding presence at the forefront of research in health law, and the undergraduate unit in Medical Law has become one of the most popular options on our degree programme. The School is home to leaders in fields that examine health law topics such as reproduction, mental health, public and global health, medical innovation, public procurement, and professional regulation. Our academics explore these issues from critical perspectives that include ethical, justice-based, historical, regulatory, economic, political and socio-legal approaches. As well as leading in research and education, we have close engagement with bodies responsible for advocacy, regulation, standard-setting, professional training, and providing ethical review and advice.
In reflection of this excellent concentration of expertise and experience, we have founded a new research Centre and are launching an exciting LLM Programme in Health, Law, and Society. Our aim with this innovative degree is to advance a course that looks at, but also reaches far beyond, questions concerning medicine and healthcare, to incorporate knowledge and understanding of how law and governance across all social and political sectors may impact health—for better or for worse. The breadth and depth of study on the course, reflecting directly our diverse range of teaching and research interests, is enhanced by the inclusion throughout the year of guest sessions led by scholars and specialists whose work and practice afford them unique insights and perspectives. (more…)