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Regulators’ statement to former healthcare professionals in response to the coronavirus crisis

The regulators of health and care professionals in the UK have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The regulators’ statement is intended to reassure those providing healthcare that the context of their actions will be taken into account should concerns be raised about their care as they tackle the crisis. This news is coupled with the invitation given by the GMC today to some 15,000 doctors who have relinquished their licenses in the past three years to return to practice with temporary registration to assist the NHS in this time of need.

Opting out is the default

Of note is the fact that doctors will be asked to opt out if they do not wish to resume registration. This unprecedented step means that the default position for doctors who have left practice in the last three years is that they will be temporarily re-registered to allow them to return to practice as swiftly as possible. Those not wishing to return to medical practice should make their intentions clear to the GMC to avoid being unnecessarily registered, and therefore being subject to GMC regulation.

Principles for returning to practice

Whilst any doctor returning to work should take comfort from the tone of the joint statement, they should be mindful of the core principles highlighted, notably that they should practice in line with the best available evidence and within the limits of their competence. It has been reported that there will be refresher training for those picking up their stethoscopes again. This should assist those returning to practice to do so with confidence. While it may be unusual for some doctors who may have retired from very senior posts to have to undergo refresher training, this will be key to keeping patients safe.

Click here for the latest guidance to doctors on tackling the pandemic.

There can be no doubt that the contributions of those who chose to return to clinical practice at this time will be greatly appreciated by the wider public.


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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