Protect health and social care workers and refer their deaths to the coroner, says The BMJ editor

April 22, 2020

All deaths of health and social care workers during the covid-19 pandemic should be referred to the coroner for independent review, says Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief of The BMJ today.

With many hundreds of deaths around the world, and over 100 reported in the UK, "it is impossible not to feel let down by political and healthcare leaders who, while sloganning, clapping for, and praising the NHS, have so evidently failed to protect those who work within it," she writes.

Her call echoes that of Professor John Robertson, Consultant Surgeon at the University of Nottingham and colleagues, who say "as this pandemic unfolds and we witness the deaths of our fellow healthcare professionals during active service and under controversial occupational conditions, there arises the inevitable question of whether the coroner should be involved?"

Writing in this week's journal, they say it is imperative that there is no further delay in providing every healthcare worker with effective PPE, and argue that, "until it is clear how much transmission is due to aerosol as well as droplet infection, surgical masks should not be considered effective protection."

They are also damning about the government's attempts to shift the blame for staff deaths onto community infection, and have no faith in the government's proposed investigation. "Without referring each death to the coroner, can we be confident that the circumstances of their employment have not resulted in these individuals paying the ultimate price through their daily work?"

Godlee argues that the UK government's response to this crisis "has been characterised from the beginning by complacency, arrogance and delay, worsened in subsequent weeks by broken promises about the supply of PPE, apparent ignorance of the situation on the frontline, and poorly explained and shifting guidance.

"So that we can learn for the future, honour the sacrifice, and seek compensation for families, all deaths of health and social care workers should be referred to the coroner for independent review," she concludes.


Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to