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Covid-19 Primary Care Resources

Guidance on personal risk for doctors during the Covid pandemic

Recognising professional and personal limits, and how to access guidance and support

This information is sourced from the RCGP, the BMA, the GMC and Care Quality Commission (CQC):

Should clinicians undertake work when inadequate PPE is available? 

  • Employers have a duty to ensure adequate PPE and clinicians should not be expected to treat patients without this
  • Clinicians should identify the level of PPE they need
  • Clincians are expected to raise concerns with their manager and ask them to take action
  • If clinicians feel under pressure to treat without adequate PPE, they should consider reporting under public interest disclosure (freedom to speak up)
  • Clinicians can refuse to treat patients if PPE is inadequate, especially if clinicians are at high risk of infection and there is no other way of delivering care

Am I obliged to put myself at risk in order to continue caring for patients? 

  • Clinicians do have a ‘duty of care’ to registered patients
  • But they are not required to sacrifice their own health and/or wellbeing
  • There are some situations when it is morally required to accept some risks in order to care for others
  • Risk exposure should be proportionate to the good that a clinician can do in that situation
  • All clinicians should weigh up their obligations to their current patients, their future patients, themselves and their families
  • The risks of caring for Covid-19 patients can be mitigated by the provision of appropriate PPE where there is face to face interaction, or the use of remote consultation methods as a first choice (or where PPE is not available)
  • Clinicians are expected to use their own discretion about what risks are acceptable – and this may change on a daily basis, depending on the patients they are seeing, the availability of PPE, as well as their own personal health risk factors

I’m feeling so anxious/stressed/worried- I’m not sure I’m making good decisions – should I carry on?

  • Remember that anxiety is a healthy and normal response at times of threat
  • Anxiety tells us that there is a threat (Covid-19) which needs to be responded to (social distancing, isolation, handwashing, PPE)
  • If symptoms do not subside with time and interfere with daily living or sleep take action and seek help
  • Remember that there is plenty of help available


CQC Safety and speaking up during the COVID-19 emergency

Published: 23/04/2020
GMC Coronavirus: Your frequently asked questions

Published: 20/04/2020
RCGP Ethical Guidance on COVID-19 and Primary Care

Published: 05/05/2020
BMA COVID-19: refusing to treat where PPE is inadequate

Published: 18/05/2020