GMC guidance on fatigued doctors welcomed by MDU

Updated COVID-19 guidance published for GMC fitness to practise decision makers.

The updated guidance advises decision makers to take account of "sustained and extreme periods of fatigue" among doctors.

Dr Caroline Fryar, MDU head of advisory services, said:

"Yesterday, an MDU survey of over 500 members revealed that one in four doctors admitted being so tired that their ability to treat patients was impaired. In a minority of cases, doctors admitted there was a near miss or a patient came to harm. Six in ten medics also reported their sleep patterns had worsened during the pandemic.

"It is very welcome news that today the GMC has updated its guidance for decision makers recognising the challenging circumstances in which doctors are currently working and the extreme fatigue they are experiencing due to the sustained nature of the pandemic.

"As memories inevitably begin to fade of the pressures healthcare professionals are under, those holding the profession to account - regulators like the GMC, the courts and indeed employers - must properly take the COVID-19 context into account."

The updated guidance for GMC decision makers in fitness to practise cases includes the following:

  • "The sustained nature of the pandemic has created additional and significant issues that decision makers will need to take into account in considering allegations raised about a doctor's fitness to practise.
  • "Where there has been a substantial resurgence of COVID cases over time due to new variants, these have created exceptional pressures for healthcare professionals.
  • "These pressures have resulted in a combined and enhanced level of the impacts outlined in this guidance including but not limited to sustained fatigue…"

This page was correct at publication on 18/01/2022. 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.