Government Plans Further Support In Fight Against Covid-19

Government Plans Further Support In Fight Against Covid-19

The government has announced further proposals to combat the spread of Covid-19, as its enhanced approach to pandemic preparations continues.

Further details on proposed measures that are set to be including in an upcoming Covid-19 Emergency Bill, have been outlined, ahead of an expected move from ‘contain’ to ‘delay’.

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, has outlined that volunteers who play a central role in helping the health and social care system, will be given additional employment safeguards so they can leave their main jobs and temporarily volunteer in the event of a widespread pandemic.

With around 3 million individuals who volunteer in health and social care settings, the government wishes to maximise the number of volunteers and the time that they can commit to supporting the health and social care system.

The safeguards will allow them to volunteer without the fear of losing their jobs. The government is seeking to ensure the jobs of skilled, experienced or qualified volunteers are protected for up to four weeks.

Leading business groups will be consulted thoroughly about how best to implement these changes

Various other measures are also thought to be being considered, such as allowing certain civil proceedings in magistrates’ courts to be conducted by telephone or video link, as well as the expansion of audio and video live links in various criminal proceedings. This will mean that individuals who are forced to self-isolate are still able to appeal to a court, as well as allowing courts to continue to operate and ensure that justice is delivered.

Last week it was also announced that measures for retired health professionals to re-register, would be considered. This would allow retired staff to return to the NHS without their pensions being negatively affected.

In a statement, Matt Hancock said:

“We will do all we can to contain coronavirus, but as we know, COVID-19 is spreading across the world, so I want to ensure government is doing everything in its power to be ready to delay and mitigate this threat.

“Public safety is my top priority. Responding to coronavirus is a massive national effort and I’m working with colleagues across government to ensure we have a proportionate emergency bill, with the right measures to deal with the impacts of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak.

“We plan for the worst and work for the best, and the NHS is working 24/7 to fight this virus. Calls to NHS 111 have increased by more than a third and we have already put in place 500 extra staff to help with this increase. Every person has a role to play in managing the spread of COVID-19 – whether that’s washing your hands more often for 20 seconds or catching your sneezes.”

News of the measures being discussed for Magistrates has brought mixed responses over social media, with some stating that it is a good idea, however many are thinking this will be the final strike for an already crumbling court system. The Criminal Law Solicitor’s Association has stated that more research needs to be done, as what little research has been done suggests “defendants are more likely to be remanded and receive longer sentences by videolink.”.

Some barristers are worried that following a pandemic, HMCTS may decide “it has managed fine without so many court buildings”, leading to further closures and sitting days. Others feel this will not be an issue due to the delays, errors and lack of infrastructure already apparent in conducting trials by videolink.

Let us know your opinions on the measures for cases to be conducted by videolink? Do you think the system can handle it?

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 3,000 other family practitioners - Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our weekly round up every Thursday morning. 

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.