COVID-19: GMC taking 'extraordinary circumstances' into account

  • Nicky Broyd, Medscape.com

  • UK Medical News
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The extraordinary circumstances caused by COVID-19 will be taken into account in complaints against doctors, the General Medical Council (GMC) announced. 

Complaints over fitness to practise will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether incidents posed a risk to patients or to public confidence. There's also updated guidance on provisional enquiries.

Pandemic-related issues being taken into account by GMC staff will include:

  • Doctors' fatigue, distress, and emotional trauma

  • Uncertainty as guidelines evolved

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability and access

  • The disproportionate effect of coronavirus on people from Black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, as well as workplace issues for BAME doctors

  • New working patterns meant some doctors were not able to access learning opportunities

  • Rudeness, record keeping, misdiagnosis, consent issues, and patient prioritisation

'Challenging Time'

In a statement, GMC Chief Executive Charlie Massey, said: "The unpredictable circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced doctors of all levels to change their practice and work more flexibly.

"Our new guidance considers the environment, created by the pandemic, in which doctors were working, along with any relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time.

"During this challenging time, doctors of course still have a duty to provide the best and safest care they can in the circumstances. When we consider concerns raised about doctors, we always review the circumstances and context of the case to decide whether they pose a future risk to patients and whether their fitness to practise is impaired."

Adapted from Medscape UK.