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  • A Primary Care Physician

Corporate Manslaughter?

The corporate manslaughter act 2007 allows organisations to be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

Why do I know this? As an employer, this has a direct relevance to me. I employ 25 people in a workplace and as such I have a duty of care to these 25 individuals which extends beyond my personal wish for their wellbeing. I am responsible for taking all reasonable steps to respond to hazards and minimise work-place risks in accordance with health and safety legislation. Should an incident occur, and a breach of safety measures be identified, I would be culpable.

How then, do we have a situation in which healthcare workers are dying having contracted Covid-19 occupationally with no formal investigation?

How then, do we have a situation in which Health and Safety rules have been re- written to fit with available supplies?

How then, do we have a situation in which coroners have been advised not to consider failures of PPE supply in their inquests into healthcare workers deaths?

I recognise that choosing to work in healthcare was also a choice to work with infectious disease. I accept that element of my work but am nevertheless deeply moved by the outpouring of gratitude and recognition of this from the population as a whole. But with this choice, with this acceptance, was a belief that a whole government healthcare agency had my back. I believed and trusted that they had prepared, had stockpiled kit and had a plan.

In early medical school years, professors lectured me on pandemics, my cohort wrote essays on preparations for these eventualities, Hollywood made films, Bill Gates and others warned, and Public Health England researched and modelled this disaster. And yet, here we are. No plan, no preparations no kit.

It is an interesting experience, having a price set on your life - mine is worth £60,000. A sizeable sum… actually my children, my husband, my family and co- workers don’t agree. They say I’m priceless, they say that if I were to die from Covid- 19 they feel that an investigation should happen, they say that perhaps ‘new’ health and safety rules are wrong and they would like the coroner to investigate any breach of safety measures – just like they would if a member of my staff died as a result of negligence on my part as their employer.

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