The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous ethical and legal challenges for health and healthcare in the UK and globally. Focusing primarily on England and Wales, colleagues in the Centre have undertaken a range of work to help address some of these challenges for patients, families, and staff, particularly as they arise in the clinical setting.
COVID-19, Healthcare Ethics and Law
Advice and Support
Centre PhD students Helen Smith, Pam Cairns, Guy Schofield, Bert Vanderhaegen, and Harleen Johal have extended their clinical work during the pandemic.
Professor Huxtable, Professor Ives, Dr Birchley, Dr Deans, and Corinna Chandler have also been working with various local, regional, and national groups to help navigate COVID-19. Examples include local clinical ethics committees, the BMA, Royal Colleges, the UK Clinical Ethics Network, NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG, and the newly formed South West Ethical Reference Group and Devon Ethical Reference Group.
Activities have included providing clinical ethics support, advising on guidance for health and social care, and participating in public engagement events designed to ensure that patients, service users, and the public at large can inform health and social care during the pandemic.
COVID-19 has, inevitably, impacted on ongoing research in the Centre; while some projects have paused, many have had to be reconfigured. Colleagues have also undertaken fresh research, which seeks to address some of the ethical and legal dimensions of the pandemic.
A team led by Professor Huxtable (including Dr Birchley, Professor Ives, Dr Kennedy and Mrs Smith from the CEM) is working on a rapid project, COVID-19 Clinical Ethics Support (CCES), kindly supported by the University’s Elizabeth Blackwell Institute. You can read more about the project here.
Professor Ives has been advising on the ethical aspects of the Octavia study, which is exploring patient involvement in treatment escalation decisions for COVID-19 patients.
Colleagues have also published a range of articles, which examine professional ethical guidance on COVID-19, surgery during the pandemic, and – in an article by two of the Centre’s BABEL-funded PhD students – the impact of the pandemic on decision-making for those who lack mental capacity.
H. Smith, P. Coulson-Smith, M.R Kennedy, G. Birchley, J. Ives, & R. Huxtable. Principles for pandemics: COVID-19 and professional ethical guidance in England and Wales. BMC Medical Ethics 2021; 22: 78
Television and radio appearances
J. Ives, Quoted in: Chalmers, V & Pyman, T. 'Coronavirus is vanishing so quickly in Britain that Oxford University's vaccine trial only has a 50% chance of success, professor leading project warns'. The Mail Online, 23/05/2020, updated 25/05/2020
J. Ives. Quoted in Teknautas. 'La paradoja inglesa: científicos plantean inocular el coronavirus para salvar su vacuna' [The English paradox: scientists plan to inoculate the coronavirus to save their vaccine]. El Confidencial, 26/05/2020