Concern over strengthening legal power to deal with infection

Clinicians could face a crisis of conscience over a clause in the Health and Social Care Bill giving magistrates sweeping powers over the care of patients, campaigners fear.

Dr Watson
Dr Watson
The bill updates existing legislation over infection control in response to modern scenarios including avian flu, chemical and radiation poisoning. 

Current legislation places a requirement on GPs to notify authorities if a patient presents with a contagious infection or is contaminated, as well as giving magistrates the power to quarantine patients. 

Under the new bill, the duty for GPs remains but magistrates are set to be given far wider powers over patients, including ordering that they are regularly monitored, disinfected or decontaminated, forced to wear protective clothing, ordered to answer medical questions or attend training and advice sessions on contamination.

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