COVID-19 should not be an excuse for removing ‘Checks and Balances’

by | Mar 19, 2020 | Change |

One of the casualties in times of fear is ‘checks and balances.’ Often our panic takes over and clouds our response. This results in our communities and government making sweeping changing to laws created to protect us. And often the changes made rarely are unmade.

In the UK, the Coronavirus bill is doing just this. No doubt, it is well meaning. And no doubt, it will do some good. And thankfully, it is time limited. I’m not sure why they decided to make changes for 2 years with no reviews built in. Seems odd as anyone working in change knows regular reviews of change are critical for success. Or perhaps it’s a hint the government thinks this is a two year crisis.

Beyond the long period of time for the changes, it’s the changes themselves that are concerning. The bill is a transfer of vast power – Powers of arrest, detention, quarantine, burials and so on. For example, our mental health act requires 2 doctor’s opinion “to detain and treat patients who need urgent treatment for a mental health disorder and are a risk to themselves or others.” The Coronavirus bill changes this to only one doctor’s opinion. I can understand the thinking here is to try to enable people to get the help they need. However, this puts enormous power into the hands of one person.

Effectively the bill does away with the ‘checks and balances’ for 2 years. That is scary and unnecessary. The result could make the vulnerable even more vulnerable.

If you are a leader or manager in an organisation, pay close attention to the changes being proposed. Are you keeping the checks and balances in place? Or is power being consolidated into a few?

Photo by Andrew Neel


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