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Principles for pandemics: COVID-19 and professional ethical guidance in England and Wales

Principles for pandemics: COVID-19 and professional ethical guidance in England and Wales
Principles for pandemics: COVID-19 and professional ethical guidance in England and Wales
Background: during the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, various professional ethical guidance was issued to (and for) health and social care professionals in England and Wales. Guidance can help to inform and support such professionals and their patients, clients and service users, but a plethora of guidance risked information overload, confusion, and inconsistency. Methods During the early months of the pandemic, we undertook a rapid review, asking: what are the principles adopted by professional ethical guidance in England and Wales for dealing with COVID-19? We undertook thematic content analysis of the 29 documents that met our inclusion criteria. Results The 29 documents captured 13 overlapping principles: respect, fairness, minimising harm, reciprocity, proportionality, flexibility, working together, inclusiveness, communication, transparency, reasonableness, responsibility, and accountability. Conclusions We intend this attempt to collate and outline the prominent principles to be helpful, particularly, for healthcare practice during the COVID-19 pandemic and, hopefully, for future pandemic planning. We also offer some reflections on the guidance and the principles therein. After describing the principles, we reflect on some of the similarities and differences in the guidance, and the challenges associated not only with the specific guidance reviewed, but also with the nature and import of “professional ethical guidance”.
COVID-19, Clinical ethics, Coronavirus, Ethical guidance, Professional guidance
1472-6939
78
Smith, Helen
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Coulson-Smith, Peta
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Kennedy, Mari-Rose
b34e7695-e5ef-4a40-96a5-236293c0878a
Birchley, Giles
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Ives, Jonathan
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Huxtable, Richard
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Smith, Helen
d90cada4-0e14-4c80-8f34-7d01ca49fb17
Coulson-Smith, Peta
e50c7afb-9c34-4c43-a67c-0dc8df14440b
Kennedy, Mari-Rose
b34e7695-e5ef-4a40-96a5-236293c0878a
Birchley, Giles
8469e6c2-74b5-4199-b824-6e37a186e8b9
Ives, Jonathan
1893eb4c-decb-463a-a45c-ee05183db6df
Huxtable, Richard
92e04e6d-d637-466c-90e6-52cc947c4b19

Smith, Helen, Coulson-Smith, Peta, Kennedy, Mari-Rose, Birchley, Giles, Ives, Jonathan and Huxtable, Richard (2021) Principles for pandemics: COVID-19 and professional ethical guidance in England and Wales. BMC Medical Ethics, 22 (1), 78, [78]. (doi:10.1186/s12910-021-00643-1).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: during the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, various professional ethical guidance was issued to (and for) health and social care professionals in England and Wales. Guidance can help to inform and support such professionals and their patients, clients and service users, but a plethora of guidance risked information overload, confusion, and inconsistency. Methods During the early months of the pandemic, we undertook a rapid review, asking: what are the principles adopted by professional ethical guidance in England and Wales for dealing with COVID-19? We undertook thematic content analysis of the 29 documents that met our inclusion criteria. Results The 29 documents captured 13 overlapping principles: respect, fairness, minimising harm, reciprocity, proportionality, flexibility, working together, inclusiveness, communication, transparency, reasonableness, responsibility, and accountability. Conclusions We intend this attempt to collate and outline the prominent principles to be helpful, particularly, for healthcare practice during the COVID-19 pandemic and, hopefully, for future pandemic planning. We also offer some reflections on the guidance and the principles therein. After describing the principles, we reflect on some of the similarities and differences in the guidance, and the challenges associated not only with the specific guidance reviewed, but also with the nature and import of “professional ethical guidance”.

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s12910-021-00643-1 - Version of Record
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e-pub ahead of print date: 24 June 2021
Keywords: COVID-19, Clinical ethics, Coronavirus, Ethical guidance, Professional guidance

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 450500
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/450500
ISSN: 1472-6939
PURE UUID: 059c3d6b-f8e9-472b-ace5-54c7a4bd0110

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Date deposited: 30 Jul 2021 16:31
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 08:16

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Contributors

Author: Helen Smith
Author: Mari-Rose Kennedy
Author: Giles Birchley
Author: Jonathan Ives
Author: Richard Huxtable

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