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Independents' Day

We at the GMC understand the burden you are shouldering

Dame Clare Marx

None of us has experience of a pandemic like this. Dealing with coronavirus is the biggest challenge to face the NHS since it was founded. And it’s going to ask a lot of us all.

For those on the NHS frontline, the call is to step in, while the rest of society steps back.

The situation demands it. But let’s be in no doubt about what that will mean.

Doctors are leading the fight in a war with an enemy we don’t yet fully understand. As you race to respond, you will face being ill yourself, and juggling the care of loved ones.

The pressure will be immense.

There’s a reason our health service is held in such high regard. It’s the staff. It’s the skill, selflessness and resilience that you demonstrate to every patient, every day.

While this situation is without parallel in modern times, the values and behaviours required of our clinicians are well established.

The tenets of being a good doctor have not changed.

Responding to this pandemic will require us to do things differently. It will require us to be flexible. And it will require us to work right to the edge of our comfort zone, and in some cases beyond.

The tenets of being a good doctor have not changed - responding to this pandemic will require us to do things differently

You may be asked to work in unfamiliar circumstances or surroundings, or in clinical areas outside of your usual practice. Redeployment may become the norm.

You may, rightly, have questions about the implications of these changes.

I want every doctor to know that we, as your regulator, understand the burden you are shouldering. This is new territory for everyone.

I want to assure you that we recognise the implications of this unprecedented event, and that any concerns raised about your practice will take into account the extreme circumstances in which you are working.

We know you will make the care and safety of your patients your first concern.

And we want to support you to do the right thing. In this national emergency, that means taking a measured approach to varying standards as the situation demands. In the peak of this outbreak, that could include departing significantly from established procedures.

Above all, we need doctors to apply their professional judgement. We urge GP practices, hospitals, trusts and health boards to give clinicians the information, equipment and support they need to do this, to minimise risk to staff as well as patients.

The priority for the GMC now is to do everything in our power to ensure clinicians are able to deliver care to those who need it.

This testing time requires us to pull together. We’ve already contacted 15,000 doctors who left the register in the last three year and many more of you have been in touch wanting to help – thank you. People’s individual circumstances may result in it being medically contraindicated for them to undertake front line duties but they will be able to make a contribution by undertaking duties that support those with patient facing responsibilities.

Doctors who have been out of practice can still play a part in helping the health services. If you know of colleagues who may be wondering how best they can deploy their skills, please do share this link with them – all additional capacity is vital and will make a real difference.

The nature of being a doctor is to go above and beyond to deliver the care our patients require. But in this crisis situation, compassion, civility, and self-care will matter more than ever.

Please be kind to each other, and to yourselves. And may I, as both a doctor and a member of the public, thank you for all you do.

Dame Clare Marx is chair of the GMC

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Readers' comments (29)

  • Cobblers

    I have four words to say to you madam.

    Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba.

    And you haven't changed since you persecuted that poor woman.

    If there is anything, anything, that would stop me re-entering the fray it is the fact that the GMC has my back.

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  • I have volunteered my service in spite of the doctor-hating GMC but I have no faith in their mealy-mouthed assurances. The lack of an apology for, and absence of accountability over the Bawa-Garba affair do not inspire any confidence. Heads should have rolled.

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  • “We urge GP practices, hospitals, trusts and health boards to give clinicians the information, equipment and support they need to do this, to minimise risk to staff as well as patients”
    You clearly have no understanding of how general practice works. GP practices are run by GPs. We cannot give ourselves or our staff the ‘equipment’ (ie effective PPE)that we need to minimise the risks to staff or ourselves if we are not being provided with this equipment. What is the GMC doing about that?

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  • It all feels a bit like forcing somebody to do emotional intelligence. Anyway this is a welcome departure for the GMC and should be encouraged.

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  • I commend the shimmers of 'consideration'. Hopefully. But, deeply I find it so sad that there is an institution, that we 'subscribe' to - integrally flawed, inert and persecutory in it's demeanour - a group of humans on a board (most of which have never worked on a ward or surgery or care home) that can stand noble and kill the dream and passionate hearts of so many altruistic, intelligent souls into dreams of fear, resent and mediocrity. The GMC over decades have blocked compassion from thriving, and are ultimately THE reason referrals are high, prescribing is high and retention is low. You are a grey, intangible, pervasive cloud that needs breaking and rethinking, quickly. Because intelligent souls are ultimately intelligent.

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  • Why can’t we rate zero stars?

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  • Absence of insight.

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  • ‘We know you will make the care and safety of your patients your first concern’......this from the chair of the regulatory body, the GMC.
    According to accepted clinical guidelines from ALS to ATLS the first concern, even in life threatening situations is ‘Safe Approach’ and not as the Dame has it as the ‘care and safety of your patients’.
    The GMC have for so long put patients first, ruining doctors lives and careers many a time based on flimsy subjective evidence from disgruntled patients that I’m not surprised even the chair of the GMC can’t see the wood for the trees anymore.
    The Dame should refer herself to her own organisation for such a basic blunder and face the same as harsh and humiliating manner the GMC is known to operate under any departure from established clinical standards (no matter what the situation or background circumstance) on the many doctors that have been put through the ringer.

    The Dame also needs to take some responsibility for the many doctors that have contracted corona virus, largely from an abysmal lack of safety equipment (sometimes even basic equipment). The very doctors expected to fight the virus on good will wearing a flimsy aprons and out of date porous face masks that clearly are not up to the task.
    Bottom line, Dame : it is SAFETY FIRST, not patient first otherwise the very doctors (and other healthcare professionals) that are needed to fight the virus will be carriers, spreaders and victims.
    Can the Dame and the GMC she is the chair of, for God’s sake please put doctors first for once?
    If the Dame or the GMC don’t believe in God then at least demonstrate believing and following accepted medical clinical practice : SAFETY FIRST.

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  • The clinical negligence system runs mainly on disputes between the patient/complainers side versus the doctor(s)/medical defence union/crown indemnity side. Unfortunately the standard of care expected by patients from their doctors is all things, to all people at all times regardless of resources, time, pressures etc. It takes several or even many years for negligence cases to come to court. At some time in the future, how can doctors really be sure that failures arising from this current crisis, whether systemic or personal, won't be judged just as harshly as they are now?

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  • Chilling ...

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