Towards a Welsh health law: devolution, divergence and values

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John Harrington
Barbara Hughes-Moore
Erin Thomas


devolution, divergence, values, Welsh jurisdiction, COVID-19, health law, healthcare, Coronavirus Act 2020, NHS, Brexit


COVID-19 and Brexit have given political impetus to re-examine Wales’s place within the United Kingdom’s devolution settlement. Health has been a key site for divergence in law and policy as between the administrations in Cardiff and London. In light of these contests, and the longer-running trends in devolution, this article considers whether a distinct ‘Welsh’ health law has now emerged. We examine the constitutional context and the range of sources for this new legal field. We argue that a set of values can be identified through an attentive reading of the legislative output of the Welsh Parliament, through reflection on the policy development of health in Wales, through the devolution process. While accepting that these are varied and heterogeneous, these values are as much an expression of universal ethical goals as they are of any delineable Welsh essence. No mere summation of positive law, these values allow one to define a distinctive realm of Welsh health law, have the potential to act as an interpretative lens for analysing law and policy flowing from Westminster, and could potentially act as a value structure for further Welsh legislation.

Abstract 444 | NILQ 72.S1.3 Harrington et al Downloads 395