What’s in our plan to improve mental health support for health and care staff?

COVID-19 will leave a deep scar on ourhealthand care workforce, who have gone above and beyond to tackle this dreadful virus. Thousands have lost colleagues, endured serious illness, or faced significant trauma.

Whilst we can hope to get a grip on COVID-19 in the coming months, thementalhealthimpacts will last a lifetime.

That is why we’re proposing a series of measures to ensure no-one slips through the net as the scale of thementalhealthimpact of this crisis emerges.

What is in our plan to improve mental health support for health and care staff?

1. 24/7 mental health support for health and social care workers.

  • Make the Covid-19 support phone hotline 24 hours per day and extend it to social care workers.

The Government’s current hotline is only available to NHS staff and operates 7am – 11pm seven days a week in NHS England.

  • Guarantee a universal mental health support service that can be accessed by all health and social care workers.

The Practitioner Health Programme is a Government funded programme for doctors and dentists across England with mental health illness and addiction problems. It’s known to be excellent and trusts often refer their doctors to it to support their mental health. The principles of this should be extended to the universal support available to all health and social care staff.

This support would mirror that provided to our frontline military personnel (MAPS), through a separate specialist service that every individual staff member in the NHS and Social Care can access.

  • Create a signposting service for all health and social care workers, to make it clear what services are available.

The roll out of these services must be for all staff, whether or not they are directly involved in patient treatment, in recognition of the wide scale of the impact of the COVID-19 across all teams.

2. Protect the NHS and care system. Guarantee NHS and social care staff get the mental health support they need.

  • Remove the use of the Bradford Factor and other HR practices that reinforce a culture of presenteeism.

The Bradford scoring system rates workers based on the number of days they’ve had off absent. This can affect their interview prospects, which can make NHS workers anxious to take a day off for their mental health.

People must not be penalised for mental health conditions. Employers and employees should be given transparency on what information on sickness is appropriate to be included in references between employers and what is not.

  • Introduce an ‘occupational health passport’ so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas when they change jobs.

The NHS has an occupational health department in every trust. When workers move trust, they have to repeat an occupational health test before the job. This can be unnecessary and burdensome on staff, particularly if they move trusts multiple times a year. It’s a waste of resources to do repeated tests and staff should not have to repeat traumatic experiences every time they move trusts.

Some parts of the country have set up an ‘occupational health passport’ which trusts share when necessary with workers’ permission. This means they don’t have to repeat assessments.

The passports must be standardised and input from bodies including RCPsych, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, the BMA, alongside NHS Employers will be vital.

3. It’s ok to not be ok; creating a culture of support in care

  • Ensure every health and social care worker has access to Balint/Swartz groups to help prevent longer term ill mental health.

A Balint/Swartz round provides a structured forum for clinicians to meet regularly to discuss the emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare. There is evidence they improve the psychological wellbeing of participants and they are frequently used in psychiatry settings for healthcare workers. This should be rolled out across other settings, with staff given protected time each month to take part.

  • Encourage every setting to have a qualified mental health first aider.

Every NHS and health care organisation should encourage staff to become mental health first aiders just as they do for physical first aiders.

With so many deaths in care homes, care staff are suffering a constant cycle of bereavement & many are struggling with their mental health.

We’re encouraged that Matt Hancock has said he would look at our proposals.

Find out more about our plan 👇 https://t.co/pxGgT6RMjRpic.twitter.com/XAjSG1SImF

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 19, 2020

The roll out of these services must be for all staff, whether or not they are directly involved in patient treatment, in recognition of the wide scale of the impact of the COVID-19 across all teams. If adopted, the proposals will improve access to mentalhealth support for all those working in health and care settings.

The clap for carers is not just a gesture – people want to see those on the frontline supported right through this crisis and beyond.

Ministers must get on top of thementalhealthimpact of COVID-19 by backing our measures to support our vital NHS and care staff when they need it most.

The mental health impacts of COVID-19 will last a lifetime.

That’s why we are proposing measures to ensure no-one slips through the net as the scale of the mental health impact of this crisis emerges.#MentalHealthAwareness#MentalHealthAwarenessWeekhttps://t.co/xCjnbFFGAF

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 18, 2020

Health and care staff need more mental health support

COVID-19 will leave a deep scar on our health and care workforce, who have gone above and beyond to tackle this dreadful virus. Thousands have lost colleagues, endured serious illness, or faced significant trauma.

Whilst we can hope to get a grip on COVID-19 in the coming months, the mental health impacts will last a lifetime.

The clap for carers isn’t just a gesture – people want to see the frontline supported through this crisis & beyond

That is why, today, we are proposing a series of measures to ensure no-one slips through the net as the scale of the mental health impact of this crisis emerges.

Ministers must get on top of the mental health impact of COVID-19 by backing our measures to support our vital NHS and care staff when they need it most.

The mental health impacts of COVID-19 will last a lifetime.

That’s why we are proposing measures to ensure no-one slips through the net as the scale of the mental health impact of this crisis emerges.#MentalHealthAwareness#MentalHealthAwarenessWeekhttps://t.co/xCjnbFFGAF

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 18, 2020

Our package of mental health measures designed for rapid roll-out across the NHS and care sectors, includes:

  • 24/7 access to mental health support for health and social care workers, through a dedicated helpline.
  • Guarantees that health and care staff will no longer be penalised for time off due to mental or physical ill health by scrapping the Bradford scoring system and other HR practices that can create a culture of presenteeism.
  • Introduce an ‘occupational health passport’ so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas if or when they change jobs.
  • Additional training to ensure there are mental health first-aiders in every health and care workforce.
  • Steps to standardise the quality and service offer to ensure that every health and social care worker can access the same, high standard of mental care support regardless of the region in which they are base.
  • The roll out of these services must be for all staff, whether or not they are directly involved in patient treatment, in recognition of the wide scale of the impact of the COVID-19 across all teams.

If adopted, the proposals will improve access to mental health support for all those working in health and care settings.

Munira Wilson, who is spearheading the campaign, and our Health and Social Care spokesperson said:

“The UK mental health response to COVID-19 should be world-class. That means investing now to prepare for the challenges ahead.

The clap for carers is not just a gesture – people want to see those on the frontline supported right through this crisis and beyond.

Ministers must get on top of the mental health impact of COVID-19 by backing our measures to support our vital NHS and care staff when they need it most.”

“COVID will leave a deep scar on our health & care workforce who’ve gone above & beyond to tackle the virus”-@munirawilson

Ministers must get on top of the mental health impact by backing our plans to support NHS & care staff👇https://t.co/8Q441u6bnn#MentalHealthAwarenessWeekpic.twitter.com/O5Pdryqfab

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 18, 2020

Why we’re voting against the Tories’ Immigration Bill

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the enormous contributions that workers from all over the world make to our country and our communities.

Tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and other NHS staff. Hundreds of thousands of social care workers. And millions more in sectors hit hard by this crisis, from restaurants and hotels to construction and manufacturing.

Migrants are putting their lives on the line to protect us every single day. And migrants will be crucial to creating economic growth and jobs as we recover from this crisis.

This bill does nothing to fix problems with our immigration system – instead it exposes EU citizens to the Conservatives’ Hostile Enviornment

So I honestly cannot understand why now, in the midst of this crisis, Priti Patel is pushing ahead with her plans to make it much, much harder for employers to hire people overseas.

Under her new immigration system, it would be much harder for doctors and nurses to come to work in the NHS, and they’d have to pay thousands of pounds in fees for the privilege. And it would be virtually impossible to recruit social care workers, hotel staff or construction workers from overseas.

Now more than ever, we should be celebrating the enormous contributions that people from all over the world make to our NHS, social care & across our society.@LibDems are opposing the Conservatives’ destructive immigration plans. Here’s the amendment we’ve tabled for Monday👇 pic.twitter.com/FbayB3fP0n

— Christine Jardine (@cajardineMP) May 14, 2020

These Conservative plans would be incredibly damaging. Now more than ever, we should be celebrating the enormous contributions that workers from all over the world make to our NHS, social care and across our society; not trying to stop them.

And what makes this Bill even worse is that there are real problems with our immigration system that need fixing.

Employers can’t recruit the workers they need, leaving the NHS short of nurses and social care in crisis. People without documents are denied access to healthcare and housing. Far too many people are detained indefinitely, in inhumane conditions and at great expense. Families are separated by unfair, complex visa requirements. Public confidence in the system has been shattered.

Yet this Bill will do nothing to fix these problems. Instead, by exposing EU citizens to the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment, it will make them worse.

What we need instead is a fair, effective and compassionate immigration system that treats everyone with dignity they deserve.

That’s why Liberal Democrats will vote against this Bill and oppose the Tories’ cruel, destructive immigration policies every step of the way.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia

In the midst of the Covid 19 crisis it is easy to think it is the only issue in town. But there is another issue that as Liberals we should not need reminding of.

One aspect of it was highlighted to me this week when a friend told me that he cannot give blood.

My friend would like to help by providing blood from which plasma could be used in the fight against COVID-19 but regardless of how rare his blood group might be, of how healthy he is, he cannot donate because he is gay.

I was stunned.

We must surely recognise that there are still elements of our lives which label and marginalise the LGBTQ community

So I checked and, to be fair, the NHS site says all men must wait 3 months after having sex with another man before donating. It doesn’t claim to be a ban, and says it is regardless of sexuality. But the reality is that as someone in a long term committed single-sex relationship that almost automatically excludes him.

And it is not the only example.

More than once in the past three yearsI have pressed the Government to fulfill the promise of its LGBT action plan and ban gay conversion therapy.

Today is International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

I would not suggest for a minute that safeguards to ensure donated blood is healthy is by its nature homophobic. I cannot say the same about the lack of a ban on gay conversion therapy.

We must surely recognise that there are still elements of our lives which label and marginalise the LGBTQ community and that this is one of them.

As Liberals we should be aware of the danger of assuming that everybody feels equally respected and protected in the current crisis. These past two months have posed problems for us all that we never thought we would have to face, and demanded strength we did not know that we had.

But we are not there yet.

In striving to reach that moment we would do well to remember the words of US politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society.

The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

That is the task we must set ourselves.

2019 Election Review

Following the 2019 General Election, the Federal Board commissioned Dorothy Thornhill and her team of fourteen to conduct an independent review of the Party’s performance.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to a fair and open society and reflect that in our internal approach to transparency and accountability. The resulting report is therefore available here in its entirety.

If you are unable to view the file below, please click here.

Download the review

If you have any reactions to the report, you can submit them libdems.org.uk/2019-review-feedback

Government must publish scientific advice for reopening schools

Before being an MP, I was a teacher. I’m keenly aware that every day schools remain shut the disadvantage gap widens and the students in need of the most support from teachers and support staff are being left behind. More than this, it’s the most vulnerable children I’m most worried about. Are they eating? Are they safe, let alone learning?

So, I want schools to open, but it has to be safe for them to open too, for children, staff and wider society.

I want schools to open, but it has to be safe for them to open too, for children, staff and wider society.

That’s why in the House of Commons yesterday, I asked the Education Secretary to urgently release the scientific advice for reopening schools.

I questioned the Education Secretary today on the decision to reopen some schools in a few weeks. Govt has failed to consult with school leaders, teachers and unions on the details of its guidance. That’s not good enough. They must publish all scientific advice on this 👇 pic.twitter.com/pdLclHzzWt

— Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) May 13, 2020

The Government has failed to consult with school leaders, teachers and unions on the details of its guidance for reopening schools, and that’s just not good enough.

We need reassurance that the decisions are being made based on public health advice only, and not economic fears.

And, of course, parents are under pressure, and I’m sure many are very keen to get their children back to schools. But we must put everyone’s safety first

I also called on the government to guarantee that all children, of all ages, will be given the equipment and funding to learn safely, either at home or in school.

Schools should not be reopened until we see scientific evidence from the government that it’s safe to do so. Now is the time to be transparent, cooperative and proactive.

What’s coming up at the next Federal Board?

How do we improve as a party and achieve greater success in future elections?

That’s the theme running through the bumper set of key decisions the Federal Board is looking at next week at our meeting. (Or rather meetings, as to avoid Zoom fatigue, we’re splitting one long meeting into halves on consecutive nights.)

Included in that will be the Board’s first considerations of the independent election review, headed up by Dorothy Thornhill and coming out tomorrow. Thank you for all their hard work to her, her colleagues and everyone who contributed evidence to the review.

The Board will be looking at major plans to overhaul our approach, learning from the best of those outside politics and from politics overseas

Even without that review, there are some things we already know we need to change, in particular our use of technology. That’s why the Board will also be looking at major plans to overhaul our approach, learning from the best of those outside politics and from politics overseas. A big part of the plan is much better use of volunteer expertise.

In a similar vein, we’ll also be looking at the hard work done by the Federal Conference Committee and conference staff to scope a potential online conference in the autumn. We’ve already put on pause plans for a traditional physical event in September in the light of coronavirus.

Putting on an online event of the scale and complexity of our conferences – which including not only debates in the hall, but keynote speeches, Q+A sessions, fringe meetings, training and more, will not be easy. But I very much hope we’ll be able to find a way to make an online event work. An event that isn’t a weak substitute for what we would have otherwise done. But an event that shows the way to a bigger, more inclusive and more successful hybrid combined offline and online conferences when conditions permit.

Events and technology are not ends in themselves, of course. So, the Board will also be looking at three other pieces of the puzzle for rebuilding the party.

We’ll be looking at how to kick-off revising our party strategy, drawing on the lessons of the election review and also those of the many colleagues who were so spectacularly successful in the council elections last year. Involving members will be key to making this a real strategy for the whole party.

Around 45% of members have said they want a leadership election now

Which leads to perhaps the most important single act of engagement party members can have: choosing our leader.

There’s a diverse and very strongly held set of views on this. Following my request for feedback from members (thank you for all the messages!), around 45% of members have said they want a leadership election now. Most members, around 55%, therefore have a range of other views – from a little later in the year through to a small number wanting to go for next May.

A bigger determining factor for many of those members is what happens, or what people expect will happen, with the lockdown. The Board, therefore, will have much to consider to get the decision right. These are complex judgement calls, about which many have strong feelings, so I will make sure that members are properly informed of whatever we decide.

Alongside that, we’ll also be having the first outing for our regular quarterly reviews of how the federal party is performing against the targets in our previous strategy. We’re developing a dashboard of key metrics to help understand what is and isn’t working, learning from some of the professional performance tracking rigour common amongst large charities and other campaigning bodies similar to our operation.

Of course, not all proposals that go to the Board go through, so remember this is a run-through of what we’ll be discussing rather than exactly what will happen. Views are of course very welcome on all these points – feel free to get in touch with me at the link below:

Get in touch with Mark

This article originally appeared on Mark’s website. You can find more of his content here.

Why we’re fighting for the self-employed

Taxi drivers, hairdressers, cleaners, childcare providers and millions more self-employed people have seen their incomes evaporate as people rightly stay at home to save lives. They desperately need the Government to support them.

We’re urging the Government to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme in full until October

When the Government announced the furlough scheme for employees back in March, there was nothing for self-employed workers. So the Liberal Democrats campaigned for a package for the self-employed that is as generous as that for employees.

We won. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which opened yesterday, will be a lifeline for millions.

Both the PM & the Chancellor are failing to answer questions on the self-employed@LibDems campaign for self-employed absolutely crucial – please back our campaign https://t.co/hVHOICui9k

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 #StayHomeSaveLives #ProtectNHS (@EdwardJDavey) May 13, 2020

On Tuesday, the Chancellor announced an extension of the furlough scheme until October – something the Liberal Democrats had been campaigning for too.

But, once again, he left self-employed people out.

So now we’re urging the Government to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme in full until October, and to expand it to cover the many self-employed people who are currently excluded.

Self-employed people have waited far too long for this support, and they must not see it snatched away too early.

What is the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme?

The Government’s scheme covers 80% of your self-employed earnings for three months, paid as a one-off grant and capped at £7,500 altogether. Earnings are calculated as the average of your trading profits over the last three tax years.

Who is eligible and who isn’t?

The scheme is available to self-employed people who traded in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and intend to continue trading in 2020-21, and whose trading profits are no more than £50,000.

The Government has excluded far too many self-employed people from the scheme, including more than 150,000 people who became self-employed since April 2019 and those who are registered as Personal Service Companies.

When does the scheme end?

The Government says that the scheme is temporary and only covers three months’ earnings. Self-employed people can apply for a one-off grant this week, but as things stand they won’t receive any support after that.

Both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister refused to commit to extending it when Ed Davey urged them to in the House of Commons this week.

Why does the scheme need to be extended?

Millions of self-employed people across the UK have had their livelihoods devastated over the last few weeks, and will not see them recover for a while to come. They need far more than three months’ worth of support.

The furlough scheme for employees has been extended to October – meaning they’ll receive eight months of support in total. The Government must do the same for self-employed people.

What are the Liberal Democrats calling for?

We are calling on the Government to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme in full until October.

We are also calling for the scheme to be expanded to cover the many self-employed people who are currently excluded – including people who became self-employed since April 2019 and those who are registered as Personal Service Companies.

The Weekly Whip

Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come.

For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibWhips

Weekly Whip w/c 11th April

Monday 11th May

The Commons started the day with the Department for Work and Pensions questions. Munira Wilson asked what recent assessment has been made of the potential merits of increasing the Carer’s Allowance.

Then we went to Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions where our Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael asked the government what assessment they have made of the effect on the Sino-British Joint Declaration following recent actions by the Chinese Government in Hong Kong.

Thank you @amcarmichaelMP for asking @foreignoffice what it will do to protect BNO passport holders in light of China’s recent, ominous labelling of pro-democracy protesters as a ‘political virus’ and its breaches of the Joint Declaration.#StandwithHKhttps://t.co/rB6RbHYnRS

— Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong. (@Stand_with_HK) May 12, 2020

The Commons then moved to a statement from the Prime Minister about his address the previous day. Usually, statements like the one the Prime Minister made on Sunday are given in the House of Commons first.

Ed Davey asked the Prime Minister if the government scientific advisors had signed off on the new ‘Stay Alert’ messaging. The Prime Minister’s answer and the answers given by the scientific advisors at the Downing Street press briefing that day seemed to differ.

See the Guardian story – and decide if you think @BorisJohnson’s reply to me was truthful https://t.co/pWQzcOEjdx

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 #StayHomeSaveLives #ProtectNHS (@EdwardJDavey) May 11, 2020

Daisy Cooper asked the Prime Minister to provide figures on how much PPE our front-line services actually need and how this compares to the supply that we have.

The British public deserves transparency not only on what we have, when it comes to #PPE, #Covid19 testing and #NHS capacity, but also what we need to get us out of lockdown. Today I asked the Prime Minister if he would publish *both* sets of data 👇 pic.twitter.com/VpKn3Mk4fV

— Daisy Cooper MP 🔶 (@libdemdaisy) May 11, 2020

Then after a few housekeeping agenda items, the Commons moved to a general debate on COVID 19. This allowed MPs to debate the current situation. Munira spoke about the need for care workers not to be overlooked in their roles on the frontline. (possible twitter link)

Tuesday 12th May

Tuesday saw all but one of our MPs speaking in the house.

We almost have a clean sweep of Lib Dem MPs contributing in the Commons today (sorry @munirawilson!)

1130 – @libdemdaisy Q1 at DiT Qs.

1230 – @EdwardJDavey Q11 and @wendychambLD Q39 for the HMT UQ

1345 – @sarahjolney1 Q17 in the BEIS statement

1/ pic.twitter.com/arZfGtFd6P

— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibWhips) May 12, 2020

The Commons started the day with Daisy Cooper asking the first question to the Department for International Trade. Daisy asked the government what recent assessment they have made of the potential effect of a US trade agreement on small and medium-sized businesses.

After Defence questions, the Commons moved to an Urgent Question from the new Shadow Chancellor for an update on the government’s economic response. At this point, the Chancellor announced an extension to the furlough scheme, another win for the Lib Dem team, who have been calling for the government to do this.

We almost have a clean sweep of Lib Dem MPs contributing in the Commons today (sorry @munirawilson!)

1130 – @libdemdaisy Q1 at DiT Qs.

1230 – @EdwardJDavey Q11 and @wendychambLD Q39 for the HMT UQ

1345 – @sarahjolney1 Q17 in the BEIS statement

1/ pic.twitter.com/arZfGtFd6P

— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibWhips) May 12, 2020

Ed Davey thanked the Chancellor for that commitment but asked the government to extend this commitment to the self-employed as well. Wendy Chamberlain followed this up by asking about seasonal workers and supporting them through this crisis.

Following the Urgent question, the Commons went to the first of two ministerial statements. The first was on the government’s new workplace guidance. Sarah Olney responded for the Lib Dems and asked the Business Secretary about dentists and physiotherapists who have been excluded from other forms of Government support yet are offering absolutely vital services that we will need when the shut-down ends.

The second ministerial statement was from the Department for Transport. Wera Hobhouse responded to the government’s new commitment on a new fund for cycling infrastructure by asking what measures the Government are planning to minimise a spike in car use and offer more opportunities for walking and cycling.

https://twitter.com/Wera_Hobhouse/status/1260243248834064389?s=20

After ministerial questions, the COVID 19 debate that started yesterday finish up in the Commons. Six of our MPs spoke in this debate: Jamie Stone, Layla Moran, Alistair Carmichael, Christine Jardine, Sarah Olney and Wera Hobhouse.

At the end of the debate, the first remote vote took place.

History has been made. For the first time ever, Parliament is voting on a motion remotely.

Perhaps this just the start of Parliamentary reform. https://t.co/v1Ad1ooAD8

— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibWhips) May 12, 2020

The final item on the agenda for the Commons was to renew the hybrid proceedings until the 20th May 2020, which is the start of the Whitsun recess (more on what that recess is next week).

Wednesday 13th May

After the very busy day in the Commons on Tuesday, Wednesday was slightly lighter.

Northern Ireland questions were followed by Questions to the Prime Minister (PMQs) where Ed Davey asked the Prime Minister about extending the self-employment job retention scheme.

After PMQs, in a big parliamentary win for the Lib Dems, Layla Moran asked an Urgent Question (UQ) to the Secretary of State for Education about if he will make a statement on his Department’s plans to reopen schools as part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.

I spoke in parliament today about my concerns about the Govt. plans to ease lockdown, and the confusion it has caused so many. Schools a major focus. It’s clear the Govt. are using these announcements to prioritise the economy over education Ahead of my UQ tomorrow see what I say pic.twitter.com/yGnVbyWXsP

— Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) May 12, 2020

Following Layla’s UQ were Ministerial Questions to the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Business Statement, outlining what is happening in the Commons next week.

The Commons moved to its only piece of substantive business today, the remaining stages of the Agriculture Bill. This is a wide-ranging bill, mainly regarding how the money the UK got from the EU for the Common Agricultural Fund is to be allocated after a final trade deal is agreed with the EU. The bill also outlines how trading in the agriculture sector will work in a post-Brexit UK. Tim Farron led the response to this bill and spoke about why the Lib Dems are voting against this bill, and it’s not because of Brexit.

Huge thanks to ⁦@timfarron⁩ for speaking in support of protecting our high food production standards in our future international trading arrangements #AgricultureBillpic.twitter.com/ddW8E64A5G

— George Dunn (@georgewdunn) May 13, 2020

Next week in the Commons

  • Monday – the Commons debate Immigration and votes on the biggest change to our immigration system in 50 years.
  • Tuesday – Statutory Instruments – various (see this Weekly Whip on what S.I.s do)
  • Wednesday – The Trade Bill comes to the Commons and we all start talking about Brexit again.

Making sure the COVID-19 tracing app is safe and effective

Reports suggest that the NHS tracing app is set to be rolled out nationwide by end of next week, despite concerns about privacy and misuse of personal data.

That’s why we’re calling on the government to bring forward a new “Safe Trace App Law”, to ensure the Government’s coronavirus tracing app is safe and effective.

This new primary legislation would force the Government to justify its decision to reject plans for a decentralised app (as recommended by the Information Commissioner) and pursue a centralised app instead, despite experts warning that:

  • It may not work on phones that are locked or when it’s running in the background.
  • It will drain a phone’s battery, so won’t work for long.
  • It will be incompatible with other countries’ apps, including Ireland’s.
  • It puts people’s privacy at greater risk.

The Safe Trace App Law would provide a clear legal framework for this enormous collection, storage and use of people’s personal data, including:

  • A guarantee that your data will be deleted within 21 days of being collected, on a rolling basis.
  • Creating legal safeguards against discrimination so no one can be excluded from any space for not having or refusing to use the app.
  • Introducing significant penalties for the misuse of personal data.

The coronavirus tracing app set to be rolled out by the end of next week, despite privacy concerns.

Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to bring forward a new Safe Trace App Law, to ensure their coronavirus tracing app is safe & effective.https://t.co/uJIupS8cL3

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 13, 2020

Daisy Cooper, our Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“Any strategy for easing the country out of lockdown must prevent another surge. An app alone will not end this lockdown, but a safe and effective app could play an important part in a broader strategy to test, trace and isolate to keep people safe.



It is vital that the Government gets this right first time. It must not lose valuable time and risk losing public confidence by reinventing the wheel when there are already effective models it could use.



That’s why the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to bring forward a new Safe Trace App Law, to ensure that the app will keep people safe, and be a genuinely effective tool in which the public have confidence.

To keep people safe, the Government must be open and honest about the decisions it is making in the design of this app. If the public don’t have confidence in it, they won’t use it – our plans for a Safe Trace App Law would fix that.”