MDU reassured by GMC approach to regulation during pandemic as new guidance issued

Guidance has been published on the way the GMC will assess a doctor's fitness to practise during the pandemic.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU), the UK's leading medical defence organisation, is supporting members with a surge in regulatory investigations since the GMC restarted its processes in July. Some cases relate to issues around the pandemic and the MDU says it welcomes today's publication of guidance for GMC decision makers on how such complaints will be assessed.

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

"We have been working with the GMC to ensure it adopts a proportionate approach to regulation during the pandemic and acknowledges the extraordinary circumstances faced by our members. Doctors have been working in hugely challenging situations and with COVID-19 cases rising, we are certainly not out of the woods yet.

"We are pleased to see the publication of today's guidance for decision making staff, as it is vital the GMC only opens full investigations where absolutely necessary. When assessing a doctor's fitness to practise during the pandemic, the GMC will take into account issues 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, and the challenges of working with changing and sometimes conflicting guidance.

"The publication of the guidance is well timed, because since the GMC restarted its investigations in July we have seen an influx of cases. Almost 25% of GMC cases this year to date have come to us in the last month. We are busy supporting these doctors and hope they and their colleagues will be reassured by today's announcement.

"While the GMC's recognition of the impact of the pandemic is reassuring, some of the complaints facing our members also have the potential to become clinical negligence claims, which is why it is vital the government acts to ensure all NHS healthcare professionals are exempt from COVID-19 related litigation, and the additional distress and anxiety it inevitably causes."

This page was correct at publication on 14/09/2020. 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.