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COVID-19: Explaining the Legal and Ethical Dimensions and Providing Professional & Public Guidance

Law and official guidance have been crucial to efforts by the UK government, devolved administrations and local authorities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also inform the advisory and regulatory roles of health professionals’ representative organisations.

As law and policy have developed, complexities and challenges have become increasingly apparent. There have been:

  • Tensions between legal rules;
  • Ambiguities about what constitute legal regulations and what is advisory guidance;
  • Difficulties with clear and effective communications, which are compounded by distinctions across the four nations of the UK.

As part of its work in tracking and analysing developments in law and policy, the Faculty of Public Health has worked in collaboration with colleagues in Law Schools at the University of Bristol, Cardiff University, Edinburgh University, and Queen’s University Belfast. This project has focused in particular on the legal landscape as it affects health practitioners and policy, within NHS and community settings.

One important aim of the Faculty’s leadership in public health ethics and law is to promote and engage in clear, informed, and open public discourse and debate. As the pandemic situation unfolds, better understanding of law, regulation, and professional and social ethics will remain essential. The above resources have been generated to:

  • Explain the framing and operation of the laws, policies, and regulatory instruments that have been put in place;
  • Emphasise the ongoing importance and applicability of human rights and equality laws and their bearing on reflective, ethical practice;
  • Be accessible to non-specialist audiences.
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