Responding to Rosie Cooper MP’s demand that the government ensures all Health and Social Care worker Covid-19 deaths are reported to the HSE and independently investigated, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has now set out a ‘process’ by which all such deaths are to be examined by the Medical Examiner and they will decide which if any are reported to the Health and Safety Executive.
This falls short of automatically reporting all NHS employees Covid related deaths to HSE by employers for independent investigation which as confirmed by both the HSE and the Department of Health, is a legal requirement under Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).
In his response to Rosie Cooper MP, the Secretary of State explains he has now written to the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, Jeremy Hunt, to describe the process in which Medical Examiners are to review the deaths of health and social care workers from COVID-19. If the Medical Examiner concludes that this fatality was a result of a Covid-19 infection acquired through health or social care work, they will inform the employer of the deceased. This will then have to be reported to the Health & Safety Executive through RIDDOR.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“I am pleased that there is some progress, but this is not enough as this falls far short of the transparency required to give reassurance.
“Health and care workers have been without PPE, the rollout of testing has been a shambles and only now are we making real efforts to contact trace. Investigating these tragic deaths is not about playing the blame game. We need to understand what went wrong and why.
“The Government and NHS England have evidently been a step behind at every stage of the response and it is therefore essential that they take every opportunity to learn from the complex environment that has emerged. Indeed it is the most appropriate form of tribute to those who lost their lives on the front-line to COVID-19 that the Department of Health & Social Care makes maximum effort to understand each and every prospect for immediate improvement in processes, protection and support for NHS and Care sector workers.
“NHS employee deaths need to be investigated quickly and transparently and not by any part of the NHS. Reports suggest that only a small percentage of healthcare workers Covid deaths have been reported to the HSE. It is essential that this happens NOW, as the country is still at very significant risk of a second COVID-19 peak and risking our NHS workers lives again, without learning is simply unconscionable.
“My hope is that the process Matt Hancock has now implemented will lead to others reporting all employee deaths to the HSE.
“Only through a full and proper investigation will we be able to learn from our mistakes and avoid repeating this tragedy.”