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Hundreds of retired doctors volunteer to help in flu pandemic

By Steve Nowottny

Three hundred retired doctors have volunteered to support NHS staff with death certification in the event of a full-blown swine flu pandemic, Pulse can reveal.

Under plans outlined in joint RCGP-BMA guidance in January, retired doctors are to be asked to help out with death and cremation certification during a flu pandemic.

A BMA spokesperson said today that three hundred doctors had come forward and said they would be willing to help out.

‘We're obviously not in a pandemic flu situation at the moment so we haven't moved ahead with that,' he said. ‘This is a database of those who would be willing to help if it reached that stage.'

However, it remains unclear how many retired doctors have also been recruited locally by primary care organisations to help out if a pandemic develops.

The Government has asked PCOs to draw up their own lists of retired volunteers, and the RCGP-BMA guidance states that doctors on local lists should be contacted at WHO Phase 5, which was declared last night.

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘The GMC is ready to grant temporary registration should we be required to do so. Temporary registration can be granted to individual doctors or classes of doctors without the need for doctors to apply or pay a fee.

‘We will make a formal announcement about the process if the powers are activated.'

Dr Jane Lothian, secretary of Northumberland LMC, welcomed the plans. ‘There are quite a number of recently retired doctors who do act as locums here,' she said.

‘With suitable safeguards, certainly for administrative purposes it's something the PCO should look at, if there was god forbid situations where there was needed to be care of very sick people or death certification then retired GPs could fulfil an extremely good role.


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