Indian-origin couple who moved court against UK govt speaks to WION

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Aug 08, 2020, 02.06 PM(IST)

Protest led by Dr Meenal Viz Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

The Indian-origin doctor couple had initiated judicial review proceedings against the UK government over "risky" guidance issued on the use of personal protective equipment, such as surgical gowns, across the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) during the coronavirus pandemic.

As the UK braces for a second wave of COVID-19, two doctors -- the husband and wife duo of Dr Meenal Viz and Dr Nishant Joshi -- say the country is still not ready for it.

The Indian-origin doctor couple had initiated judicial review proceedings against the UK government over "risky" guidance issued on the use of personal protective equipment, such as surgical gowns, across the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Nishant Joshi and his then pregnant wife, Dr Meenal Viz, had launched their legal action in April with a pre-action letter seeking answers from the UK's Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England.

On May 22, they decided to push ahead with the case in the High Court in London after receiving "unconvincing" responses from the government.

"I thought I am just a junior doctor, holding a placard outside of the Downing Street. Who will listen to me? But we felt that ultimately it was our duty to help our patients and help our community. It is not their fault the government is not there to protect them. We had to make a compromise with our health and the potential health of our baby," Dr Joshi told WION in an exclusive chat recently.

It was the death of another pregnant healthcare worker that made them take legal action.

"Even to this day, the government are not accepting their failures and are not being honest with us. So if we do have a second wave, I really hope they have learnt their lessons and we don’t go back into the cycle of trying to buy things in such urgency," Dr Viz said.

The couple's legal team said the government not only had taken over two weeks to respond to the initial legal letter but also did not answer all the concerns.

They also claimed that the government has refused to allow the publication of the initial response.

She added, "We are not just looking at the NHS now in the next 10 or 20 years. We need to make sure that doctors are protected and doctors are heard and our voices are listened to."

The couple recently delivered their first baby, Radhika, at the hospital. Both the infant and the mother are safe.

Dr Viz said, "She (Radhika) was my biggest hope and strength during the pandemic. There were times when things were difficult but feeling her kick in my womb, and we want her to be raised in a world were she knows that people will fight for the truth."

Joshi and Viz had also launched a crowdfunding campaign for the legal challenge, which has already attracted 35,458 pounds in pledges on the Crowdjustice.com forum.

Joshi, a general practitioner (GP) trainee, has been leading a social media campaign for weeks over the safety guidance and supply of PPE for medical staff.

Viz, a clinical fellow in medicine, was pictured in April outside Downing Street dressed in full medical scrubs and a surgical mask holding a placard reading: "Protect Healthcare Workers".