CALLS are being made for an independent commission to deal with the implications of a feared influx of compensation claims and other legal cases over the handling of coronavirus cases.

A group of MPs supported by a body that provides legal support to medical staff, believe want the commission to consider how patients' complaints and claims against Scottish medical staff are dealt with fairly after the coronavirus crisis.

Dr Philippa Whitford, the SNP health spokesman in the House of Commons is leading efforts – supported by MPs from five political parties – to support a call made by the medical defence organisation The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland for an independent expert committee to make recommendations on this issue.

It comes over fears of a likelihood of increased litigation with compensation claims directly and judicial reviews against NHS bodies in the aftermath of the pandemic.

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Dr Whitford and her supporters are working to ensure doctors have peace of mind that they will be treated fairly, in the case of a complaint or regulatory process, while patients are reassured that their rights are protected.

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MDDUS, which provides legal support to more than 50,000 doctors, dentists and other healthcare workers throughout the UK, says courts should take the unique circumstances of the pandemic into account in any action against medical staff.

It is concerned in particular about the risk of a spike in prosecutions that may be brought under health and safety legislation.

Dr Whitford, the SNP MP for Central Ayrshire, says now is the time for ministers to act to commission clear and independent recommendations on how to achieve a fair balance between protecting patients’ rights and fully reflecting the pandemic conditions doctors were working in.

The campaign calls for independent guidance on claims, complaints and regulatory issues likely to be raised by Covid-19 and how these can be tackled fairly, taking into account the exceptional circumstances clinical professionals have been working in.

The campaigners say they should examine what changes to normal processes may be necessary to minimise the stress and uncertainty on clinicians of investigations into decisions they made during Covid-19.

Dr Whitford, who is a member of MDDUS, said: “At the moment everyone is aware of the stress and challenge faced by NHS staff, but that memory will fade.

“It is important that the exceptional circumstances of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic are not forgotten when using hindsight to judge medical decisions or actions.

“An advisory committee could lay out specific guidance to achieve a fair balance between protecting patients’ rights and taking into account the situation in which doctors were having to work.

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“While the advanced planning for a pandemic was rather limited, we owe it to all our frontline clinicians – especially those who have had to make difficult decisions about patient treatment – to plan well for its aftermath.”

In a letter to the health secretary Matt Hancock and the justice secretary Robert Buckland, Dr Whitford highlights the fact that doctors, medical students and recent retirees were facing an emergency situation they have never experienced before and were being called to work "beyond the normal limit of their competency".

She told the duo that "we owe it to all our frontline clinicians - especially those who have had to make difficult decisions about patient treatment – to plan well for its aftermath".

Chris Kenny, chief executive of MDDUS, said: “Supporting and defending the professional interests of our 50,000 doctor and dentist members across the UK is at the heart of what MDDUS does, and I believe that this can be done in a way that also protects patients’ rights.

“I am very encouraged that MPs support the principle of an independent, expert advisory committee. I look to ministers to take forward this as a matter of urgency as they plan for the aftermath of COVID-19.”