06 May 2020
01 May 2020
by Peter Mills
A mantra of recent government policy reporting in recent weeks is that they are only following the science. The science recommended the lockdown, and the science will let us know when it can be relaxed, apparently. It tells us what tests need to be done for whom and what protective equipment is needed for whom. How exactly can it do this?
28 Apr 2020
by Anne Kerr
In their recent statement on digital contact tracing, NHSX, the NHS Unit leading digital transformation of the NHS, acknowledge that the public will need to trust this new technology for it to be effective in tackling COVID-19, and that NHSX will seek to earn that trust by working with ‘transparent standards of privacy, security and ethics’.
It’s amazing how much (and how many people) we trust in and how reliant we are on trust. Imagine a world in which you never trusted your doctor to try to do her best for you. In an emergency such as the present one when things are so uncertain trust matters even more. But you cannot just command trust (‘Trust me I am an expert/Minister/whatever’) and when trust has been built up over time it is very easy for it to be destroyed in an instant.
There is urgency to the situation that we all face. But urgency does not absolve those responsible for decision-making of the moral duty to involve those who are affected; to engage with the communities that they represent and seek to protect; and to be transparent about the basis on which decisions are being considered and are being made.
The UK Government’s public information campaign starkly tells us what we are to do – stay at home – and why – to save lives, and to protect the NHS. It’s fairly clear what it is to save a life, although it is not easy to measure how many lives will have been saved. But what is it to protect the NHS?
At some point in this terrible pandemic doctors will have to make some unbelievably difficult life and death decisions. It is the point at which the demand for the intensive life saving resources outstrips their supply. At that point doctors will have to decide who receives care and who does not. No one should have to make such decisions, and yet they will have to be made.