Legal fight for NHS Personal Protective Equipment

by Dr Nishant Joshi

Legal fight for NHS Personal Protective Equipment

by Dr Nishant Joshi
Dr Nishant Joshi
Case Owner
Nishant is training to become a GP and works in hospital with children at the moment Meenal is training to become a consultant physician. She is currently pregnant and working from home now.
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Dr Nishant Joshi
Case Owner
Nishant is training to become a GP and works in hospital with children at the moment Meenal is training to become a consultant physician. She is currently pregnant and working from home now.
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Latest: July 12, 2020

You've Helped Us Reach Our Biggest Milestone Yet.

Dear backer,


We have filed for judicial review.


That's it. That's the update.


We have been deeply unhappy with the government's replies to our pleas for help. We have garnered mainstream med…

Read more

My wife Meenal and I are both doctors. Like so many NHS workers we are deeply concerned about the lack of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when we are working to help patients. 

So far, over a hundred health care workers have died from coronavirus and many more have caught the disease. We're launching a legal challenge over government guidance on PPE which we believe exposes us to coronavirus. 

If you believe our frontline NHS workers need the correct PPE to protect themselves while fighting Covid-19 please contribute anything you can to our legal costs now and share this page with your friends, family and on social media.


Protect NHS Workers

We want to stay healthy to continue to help patients and not spread the disease to others. Meenal is pregnant and has concerns for her unborn baby as well as herself. 

In our work, we can be exposed to high viral loads of coronavirus over a prolonged period of time so need the highest protection from infection. The government claims to be guided by science. It is clear that their failure to supply the right PPE in sufficient amounts is making them adjust the guidelines on the use of PPE that do not meet WHO or Health and Safety standards. 

It is wonderful we all clap on Thursday evenings, but it is also critical that frontline NHS staff have the proper masks, visors, gowns, gloves, etc. so we can get on and help patients without fear of catching the virus ourselves and spreading it further. 


Our Case

We are asking the government to be guided by science, not supply. 

We are challenging the government guidance on the basis that:

  • It is not in line with the international standards set by the World Health Organisation or domestic legislation regarding health and safety at work;
  • It exposes healthcare workers to a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and fails to address the greater risks faced by BAME healthcare workers;
  • It is unclear and has resulted in inconsistent practices across NHS Trusts;
  • It fails to make clear the level of risk faced by healthcare workers depending on the level of PPE they can access or that healthcare workers have a right to refuse to work without adequate PPE;
  • The guidance falls short of recommendations previously published by PHE.

In the current crisis what could be more important than keeping our frontline NHS staff healthy?

We are also asking for the government to consider the particular risk that black, Asian and ethnic minorities face with coronavirus and their higher proportion of death among health workers. 

More details can be found about the challenge on the press release from our law firm Bindmans here.


How much are we raising and why? 

Initially, we need to raise £60,000 for our legal costs, including representation and barristers, adverse cost protection and court fees, so that we can take action as quickly as possible if the Government do not revise the guidance and take adequate steps to source PPE to prevent the unnecessary loss of life among health workers. We will then need to move quickly to a larger stretch target of £120,000, so that we can pursue the action to a full hearing if necessary.

Please donate and share the CrowdJustice page with your friends and family - so they can donate and share too. 

Thank you for your support. This matters to all of us.

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Update 10

Dr Nishant Joshi

July 12, 2020

You've Helped Us Reach Our Biggest Milestone Yet.

Dear backer,


We have filed for judicial review.


That's it. That's the update.


We have been deeply unhappy with the government's replies to our pleas for help. We have garnered mainstream media attention in broadsheet papers, our protests have garnered support from doctors, whlie our article on systemic racism went viral, and it was discussed by senior members of PHE and NHS England, and discussed by MPs. 


Importantly, our campaigning has become part of public consciousness. From a 'niche' issue of PPE, we have been able to put pressure on other important issues such as rights for pregnant workers and rights for BAME healthcare workers.


We appreciate that you have given us a platform to speak up, and with that comes a responsibility to be ambassadors for truth, honesty and integrity.


As doctors, our fundamentals are clear: we want to lessen suffering. Many families have continued to get in touch with us, explaining how they have suffered at the hands of systematic failings.


To these families, we will make one commitment: we will seek justice for you.


Thank you for your help and support so far - we now have three major bodies on board with us as 'interested parties', showing the importance and far-reaching nature of our case.


PREGNANCY UPDATE: Meenal has now given birth to a beautiful baby girl (RADHIKA, meaning 'seeker of justice' in Sanskrit), and though we hit some health speedbumps (gestational diabetes is a real thing, so please attend your regular check-ups!) we are still working flat-out with our legal team. Our daughter is home, but we will keep working on this important case - after all, we are here to make sure her future is safer and more prosperous.


Follow our updates on Twitter: Meenal and Nishant.


Best,


Meenal and Nishant


PS: If you would like to get involved in supporting/campaigning for our cause, please email on meenalviz93 at gmail dot com.

 
Update 9

Dr Nishant Joshi

May 31, 2020

Downing Street Again, And A Cliff-Hanger...

#ClapForCarers was a beautiful thing, until it was hijacked by politicians.


Week after week, we became more frustrated - it seemed that the politicians were smugly applauding themselves and their rising death toll.


So, a few of us went to Downing Street at 8pm on Thursday.

We stood in silence for 237 seconds, to mark the 237 doctors, nurses and carers who have died so far during the pandemic. 


Boris Johnson came out, applauded, and then went back inside when he saw us.


Our video was seen by over a million people on Twitter alone.

https://twitter.com/carolecadwalla/status/1266396951433687040


Thanks to your help, we have now raised over £50,000. For a grassroots campaign to have raised that in just a few weeks...it shows the strength of your feeling.


Awareness is key to our campaign - if you haven't yet shared our story with 10 of your friends, now is a great time to do so: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/nhs-ppe/


Also, we can exclusively reveal some BREAKING NEWS...


Right off the back of our protest, the government sent us an email. This could be a significant moment in our journey.


We leave you on that cliff-hanger.


Until next time,


Dr Meenal Viz and Dr Nishant Joshi


https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/nhs-ppe/



Update 8

Dr Nishant Joshi

May 24, 2020

Dear Government Lawyers,

We appreciate that you have been in touch with our lawyers over the past few weeks. But our communications have exclusively been via our own lawyers, and obviously things have become a bit tetchy so we just wanted to reset proceedings and reintroduce ourselves.


We don't want to be doing this. We didn't plan on doing this. We're doctors in a pandemic. We want to focus on saving lives and stitching this country back together. Frankly, in our limited time off, we would both rather be phoning our families and getting our baby's cot together. We haven't seen our families in nearly three months.


But we have been pushed into taking action.


All we want is to sit in our small garden, enjoy the sunshine and watch the grass grow long while we sip on tea and eat scones. 


We acknowledge and respect that you prefer for your correspondence to remain private, and we will respect this - I hope that a public acknowledgement of your preference is not in itself considered to be an egregious breach of confidence. But nevertheless, in the interests of full transparency, we feel it is important to publically acknowledge your private acknowledgment to not make public your communications for the time being.


Anyway, we digress.


Reading between the lines, we know that you frequent this Crowdjustice page very often, and so this is a simple Bank Holiday assurance from us - we want to make your life easier. 


If you are willing to release emails, disclose documents, and engage in healthy and constructive dialogue that addresses our ongoing serious concerns, we would be most obliged.


Also, we note your repeated emails making clear that you are operating under significant operational pressures...it is now midnight on Sunday night, and Nishant has completed a 65 hour week taking care of sick children. Meanwhile, we have fielded further phonecalls from families of bereaved healthcare workers.

It is our duty and obligation to do our best for these good people, and to avoid similar citizens from suffering the same fate in weeks, months and years to come.


We need answers from Matt Hancock and we are willing to work with your department in order to achieve practicable solutions. That can only come with an initial acknowledgment and apology. As doctors, we have a duty of candour to our patients - if things go wrong, we have to fess up and say things could have been done better.


Nobody expected this pandemic to run smoothly - least of all, doctors! But there have been obvious and egregious PPE failures that need to be addressed.


Thank you for your continued willingness to engage with us so that we can protect healthcare workers.


Best regards,


Dr Meenal Viz and Dr Nishant Joshi



Update 7

Dr Nishant Joshi

May 21, 2020

A Letter To My Unborn Child.

Meenal has made a short film - in just a few hours it's gained over 100,000 hits.


This is her story:


Twitter:
https://twitter.com/meenalsworld/status/1263514897884884992?s=19


Facebook: https://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10158561417058392&id=510663391


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CAdTWEblgA8/?igshid=wd96o8s90wmv

Update 6

Dr Nishant Joshi

May 13, 2020

You Wanted To See The Government's Response. They Have Refused.

Matt Hancock does not want you to see his reply to us.

What is he hiding?

We requested full transparency throughout these hearings - and we insist that all correspondence between our team and Matt Hancock needs to be fully public. He has personally declined to do so.

It is a matter of national interest and it does not sit right with us that in a case that centres around transparency, he does not want to be fully transparent.

Oh boy.

***

To date, we have taken things logically and calmly. 

We initially raised local concerns, and then realised these issues were of a time-critical nature and so Nishant became the first frontline doctor to speak publically about the impending PPE crisis.

After the tragic passing of our dear pregnant nurse Mary Agyapong, we decided that enough was enough. Meenal - then six months pregnant - took the brave step of protesting outside Downing Street with her now iconic sign. 

We attempted to engage the government through gentle means - we used a legal route that required a formal government response. Unfortunately, the government have not engaged with us, and they continue to obstruct our search for justice.

This should have never happened - but with your help we can ensure that this never happens again.

If you are on Twitter, please follow daily updates:

Dr Meenal Viz and Dr Nishant Joshi

***

Please keep sharing our link with you friends, family and rich uncles who believe that justice needs to be served: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/nhs-ppe/

Best regards,

Dr Nishant Joshi & Dr Meenal Viz 

(Our 31 week foetus sends its warmest regards)

Update 5

Dr Nishant Joshi

May 12, 2020

Finally, An Answer!

Good things often come to those who wait....

...this is not one of those times.

We are grateful for having received a response from Matt Hancock's legal team.

But, after discussing the government's reply with our expert team of lawyers, we have asked for a few further clarifications.

To summarize, our challenge centres around a simple question:

Have the British government sent doctors and nurses to work in environments without providing appropriate PPE?

In the spirit of transparency, openness and honesty, we have asked the government if they would allow for publication of their reply to us. 

We believe that government decisions should be open to scrutiny, and that their decision-making processes deserve closer inspection.

To be clear, we want to help the government arrive at the best decisions - Meenal's tummy is growing to the point where she feels "like a balloon about to pop" (her own words), and so if we were spared the thought of delivering our baby in The High Court in July, we'd be ever so grateful.

In the first instance, a Zoom call where we could put our points across. This would be massively helpful.

We will update as soon as we hear from Mr Hancock's team again.

In the meantime, please do keep sharing our link on Facebook groups and pages. We really need your help to see this through.

Best,

Dr Nishant Joshi, Dr Meenal Viz & Dr Foetus

PS: Meenal has intimated that if you help us reach our stretch target by donating the most funds, she will allow you to choose the baby's name. So long as it's not Priti.

Update 4

Dr Nishant Joshi

May 7, 2020

Will There Be No End To The Scandals?

"There are perfectly adequate stocks of PPE in this country...PPE issues have been completely resolved - Dr Jenny Harries,  20th March 2020.


We didn't believe it back then.

We definitely don't believe it now.


48% of the national stockpile was out of date, and our Deputy Chief Medical Officer had the audacity to say that we need "more adult conversation" about PPE.


This is disgraceful. Shameful. 


The government will never admit to its faults and they will not come clean about their egregious errors. 


They will continue to double down on their lies - they are becoming more brazen by the day.


We have still not heard back from Matt Hancock's team - two weeks on, they keep asking for more time. It's already too late.


We need to seek justice via a judicial review.


Our government do not value the lives of doctors and nurses. We must hold them accountable, and make sure one thing is clear: never again.


Wash your hands,


Dr Meenal Viz & Dr Nishant Joshi

Update 3

Dr Nishant Joshi

May 3, 2020

Still No Answer.

Excellent news - thanks to a stunning grassroots response, we have raised over £10,000 in the space of just a few days!

Regrettably, Matt Hancock has spent the last few days boasting about dubious testing targets instead of answering our legal team's email.

Keep in mind - we have only asked for simple evidence from the government, which should be freely and easily available. Hell, at this stage, we'd even accept a link to a Wikipedia page that shows us why it's acceptable for my colleagues to work on the frontline with a dinnerlady's apron.

It's dead simple: just show us the evidence, and we will have no need to pursue this further.

Meenal would like to add that she ideally wants to deliver our baby in hospital, and not in The High Court.  This is on you, Matt.

Wash your hands,

Dr Nishant Joshi and Dr Meenal Viz

Update 2

Dr Nishant Joshi

May 1, 2020

We Won't Let Them Get Away With This.

In true doctor style, we ask you to please take a seat - we've got some good news and some bad news...


Good News:


- Our solicitors are doing a fantastic job, and we've received plenty of public support. We have pressed the government to respond, regularly. Our team is superb - and we have some creative surprises on the way...


- Meenal featured on Good Morning Britain opposite Matt Hancock, where he admitted for the first time that PPE guidelines were based on supply, not science. This makes it very clear that the government have knowingly sent healthcare workers into dangerous situations. 


Headlines have unfortunately been off the mark, so to make absolutely clear: we are not suing the government.


We have merely asked Matt Hancock a simple question: where's your evidence?


- The Daily Mail have endorsed our campaign, and featured a full page op-ed from Meenal on Thursday. She emphasized that if we have British manufacturers at our disposal, why are we flying in supplies from Burma? 


Bad News:


- We are deeply disappointed by the government's failure to respond to us in a prompt manner. Doctors and nurses are falling ill every day, and we have only asked them simple questions. Our legal team are frustrated by this, and we feel we now have to take charge and say: THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.


- In other bad news, Meenal is feeling the baby kick very hard indeed. We suspect it is out of dissatisfaction at Matt Hancock's persistent lying over PPE, testing, and the like.


What Next?


We need to act fast. We need to reach our initial target of £60,000 within 21 days, and our stretch target of £120,000 will see us through a judicial review. 


Thank you for already contributing - we still need your help.


If you can please share with your friends via WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, this will be the most effective way of spreading our message and ensuring we meet our target.


Unlike Matt Hancock, let's try reaching our target without fudging the numbers...


For regular updates, you can also follow us on Twitter:


Follow Dr Meenal Viz on Twitter


Follow Dr Nishant Joshi on Twitter


Thank you for all your help and support,


Dr Meenal Viz & Dr Nishant Joshi

Update 1

Dr Nishant Joshi

April 27, 2020

NHS workers still exposed and the Govt. delay their response

The govt has delayed its response to our crucial PPE challenge, whilst doctors and healthcare professionals continue to be exposed to COVID-19

Thanks so much for your support. We wanted to give an update on the government response to our claim and provide more detailed information about why this case is so critically important.

Our lawyers have heard back from the government. Despite the serious issues raised by our claim, as confirmed in the BBC Panorama report broadcast  yesterday evening, the Government Legal Department (representing the Secretary of State and Public Health England) has said they will only get back to us by the end of the week. In the meantime, the Guidance on PPE, and efforts to source PPE, remain inadequate putting the lives of healthcare workers, their families and ultimately their patients at greater risk than needs to be the case. Our lawyers have asked for a response by Wednesday afternoon, in light of this urgency.

Thanks to your support, our case has already made international headlines in the Guardian and on Reuters.  Help us to continue to push the Government to ensure health care workers are properly protected by adequate PPE and have the right to refuse to work when they do not.

This challenge is about protecting ALL NHS workers on the frontline. 

We believe that the government is failing to protect frontline NHS workers because of a lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). 

This is because: 

1.       UK PPE guidance falls short of standards set by the WHO.

2.       The government has not taken adequate steps to address the PPE shortage.

Tragically, over 100 healthcare workers have already died from coronavirus, and countless more are infected. This has disproportionately affected workers of a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.

This is a breach of the government’s international obligation to protect the lives of healthcare workers under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. 

We want the government to act now to remedy the current shortages in PPE, and to clarify its guidance.

What have we done so far?

Our lawyers at Bindmans have sent a pre-action letter inviting the government to:

1.       Review current PPE Guidance and bring it in line with WHO standards

2.       Confirm that urgent steps have been taken to engage with the EU’s PPE bulk buying programme

3.       Investigate the deaths of healthcare workers, in particular why BAME healthcare workers are disproportionately affected

They have also requested disclosure of the research and evidence base which informed changes to the PPE guidance on 17th April, particularly because the Royal Colleges were not consulted before these amendments were introduced.

We had sought a reply by 4 PM on Monday 27 April, but the Secretary of State and Public Health England’s lawyers have asked for an additional 5 days to provide a response. Given the urgency, our lawyers have asked for a reply by Wednesday.

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