On 1 July 2020, the GMC resumed existing fitness to practise (FTP) cases where it was able to do so. It continues to review new concerns that may raise issues of patient safety, and will open new cases where necessary.
All FTP cases are being considered in the context of the "extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, including additional pressures on resources and ways of working outside of normal routines". This means that "in certain circumstances and where there are no risks to patients or to public confidence, some issues might not put into question a doctor's fitness to practise."
The GMC provides examples which could include "concerns about clinical treatment where guidelines were unclear, or a doctor working outside their usual area of practice with limited or no support or guidance to do so safely. There would also need to be no risk to future patients."
Special guidance for GMC staff also advises them to reflect on specific issues arising due to the pandemic such as:
- staff working in unfamiliar settings
- availability of PPE and the difficulties caused by wearing it
- the disproportionate impact of the disease on doctors from black and minority ethic (BME) backgrounds
- the challenges of working with changing and sometimes conflicting guidance
Impact on members
The MDU has worked closely with the GMC throughout the pandemic, assisting members with ongoing cases and feeding back to the GMC the practical impact of the pandemic on our members' practice, as well as on their professional and personal lives more widely. We welcome the GMC's adoption of a proportionate approach to its FTP procedures throughout the pandemic and that this approach continues as the NHS and other providers are having to adapt to new ways of working.
On 27 March, the GMC stated: 'Doctors need to feel confident that they will not be subject to unreasonable criticism by the GMC, or have their registration removed or restricted, because of the difficult decisions they are forced to make, or the standards of care they are able to provide during a pandemic.'
In the latter half of 2020 the pandemic is still present, albeit in a different phase, and the need for reassurance that FTP procedures remain fair and proportionate has not diminished. We will continue to assist individual members with GMC procedures and, on behalf of all members, to continue our work in feeding back to the regulator our experience of advising and assisting members so that it can ensure its procedures remain fair and proportionate.
This page was correct at publication on 15/09/2020. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.