An editorial in the British Journal of General Practice questions the government’s campaign to encourage retired doctors to return to clinical practice.
The article points out that a significant proportion of doctors who have died so far from COVID-19 have been over 60 years of age.
“This raises questions about the government’s campaign to encourage retired doctors to return to NHS roles. The high proportion of deaths that have occurred in doctors aged >60 suggests that the NHS should be very cautious about placing these doctors in front-line clinical roles where they may be at risk of contracting COVID-19 infection,” the authors say.
Furthermore, they highlight that nearly all doctors who have died from COVID-19 in the UK have been from ethnic minority groups.
“To make informed decisions about the deployment of staff, we need better data on the risks of infection, serious illness, and death by personal characteristics — such as age, sex, underlying health problems, and ethnicity. This would allow the calculation of personalised risk profiles for healthcare workers and enable their employers to make rational decisions on how to deploy staff to minimise risks to their health,” they say. “This would include redeployment to lower-risk areas for doctors with a higher risk of serious illness and death.”
They say more deaths are inevitable unless urgent action is taken to reduce the risk.
The article is authored by Azeem Majeed, Professor of Primary Care at Imperial College London, Mariam Molokhia from King’s College London, Bharat Pankhania from the University of Exeter, and Kaveh Asanati, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer and Consultant Occupational Physician at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College.