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Doctor regulators to take winter pressures ‘into account’

Doctor regulators to take winter pressures ‘into account’

Regulators will go easy on doctors who have to change their practise due to winter pressures in the next few months, they have promised.

In a joint letter to the profession, NHS England, the GMC, the CQC and the UK’s four chief medical officers said they ‘recognise this winter will be difficult’, with doctors ‘likely to have concerns about both the professional practicalities and implications of working under sustained pressure’.

The letter, dated last Friday (11 November), added that they were ‘committed to doing what we can to ensure you are, and feel, supported and safe’.

Going on to recognise that ‘there is already sustained additional demand across all sectors and settings of health and care provision’, the letter said this ‘is likely to be exacerbated by staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities’.

‘The impact on staff both personally and professionally will be significant and potentially prolonged throughout the coming months,’ the letter said, with the ‘challenging times’ meaning doctors ‘may need to depart from established procedures’.

The letter said: ‘Please be assured that your professional code and principles of practice are there to guide and support your judgments and decision-making in all circumstances.

‘This includes taking into account local realities and the need at times to adapt practice at times of significantly increased national pressure.

‘In the unlikely event that you are referred to your professional regulator, they will consider the context you were working in at the time, including all relevant resources, guidelines or protocols.’

Those expected to be ‘flexible in recognition of the challenging and changing landscape’ include ’employers, educational supervisors, professional bodies, and national health and social care organisations’, the letter said.

‘National regulators will also take into account the need to keep regulatory oversight proportionate at this busy time, whilst maintaining the focus on patient safety and protection of the public,’ it added.

Last winter, the CQC decided to scrap inspections focused on GP access which had formed part of the Government’s winter plans.

And in January, the GMC said it would take into account ‘sustained fatigue’ experienced by GPs during the pandemic when assessing fitness-to-practise complaints.

NHS England’s primary care chief Dr Amanda Doyle confirmed last month that there will be ‘no additional’ winter funding to support GPs this winter amid a ‘tight’ financial situation.

She also admitted that the previously announced winter fund of £37m, which was repurposed from four PCN incentive scheme indicators that were deferred or scrapped, was ‘not a huge amount of money’.


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Michael Mullineux 15 November, 2022 4:04 pm

Like they took Winter Pressures into account with ‘Laptopgate’?

S. Ali 15 November, 2022 4:09 pm

Sounds like the GMC are building their case to excuse non-action against some doctors and action against others. I wonder if cases were analyzed would their be discrimination, pretty sure the GMC will commission their own staff to investigate and provide half-truths.

Seems they have learnt nothing from all these GMC reviews and non-independent reports, considering the circumstances and environment should be part of the triage and investigation procedure as standard like good regulators. But the GMC is not fit for purpose.

Obviously this ticks a box in the PSA list. The PSA will continue to show they not capable of functioning having larger larger organisations constantly run rings around them and use legal tape.

Jonathan Gregson 15 November, 2022 5:22 pm

I will not fall for that false promise.
They will turn a blind eye to cutting corners when an under resourced NHS cannot cope with demand because that helps the system.
If a patient harm occurs the clinician will be blamed.
Continue to use reference NICE and other guidelines. If there are reasons for variance be explicit and record why sometime isn’t done.
When I do out of hours work I keep a diary of the service provision – absent staff, missing kit, lone working.
This letter offers no protection.

Patrufini Duffy 15 November, 2022 7:05 pm

Yeah right. Like a laptop case you smeared. Get a life, no one is interested in your fake reason of being. The institutes will get a cluster headache with the number of referrals one initiates, patients first always first, choke the system because the GMC said so. Regulate that.

Samir Shah 15 November, 2022 7:15 pm

Drag people through mud. then apologise. Then spend a fortune ‘learning lessons’, then repeat.

Christine Paterson 15 November, 2022 7:36 pm

Ha ha Ha Fucking Ha ad in finitum

Chi E 16 November, 2022 10:47 am

LOL! Fool me once…

Simon Gilbert 22 November, 2022 3:53 pm

I’ve learnt to look at what organisations do not say.

I’m grateful they have telegraphed in advance what they do.