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Strikes may put doctors’ training and registration in jeopardy, regulators warn

The GMC and health education bosses have warned junior doctors that their training and registration may be put in jeopardy by taking prolonged industrial action.

The GMC has said that junior doctors may face ‘sanctions’ if any patient comes to harm as a result of the strikes.

Meanwhile, Health Education England has said that any trainees who miss more than two weeks work through the strikes will have their training ‘reviewed’.

Last week, the BMA announced plans for junior doctors to take monthly industrial action, of a period of five days at a time, in response to the Government’s imposition of a contract.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges issued a statement highly critical of junior doctors, but Pulse reported that some of its members – including the RCGP – distanced themselves from the statement.

The GMC and HEE have become the latest bodies to state their position on the industrial action.

In a statement about the planned industrial action, GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘The GMC has powers… to investigate and apply sanctions to any doctor whose behaviour has fallen consistently or seriously below the standards required. Where we are presented with evidence that a doctor’s actions may have directly led to a patient or patients coming to significant harm, we would be obliged to investigate and if necessary take appropriate action.’

Mr Dickson urged doctors who are contemplating further and escalated industrial action to ‘pause and consider the possible implications for patients’ which will ‘mean the cancellation of tens of thousands of operations and procedures, outpatient appointments and tests’.

HEE has said that the prolonged nature of the industrial action could have a consequence for doctors in training.

In a statement, it said: ‘HEE respects the rights of doctors in training to take industrial action as employees. Whilst industrial action in the short term may not necessarily compromise their training, there could be circumstances where prolonged industrial action and loss of training experience impact on a doctor’s ability to demonstrate competence and the satisfactory completion of the curriculum.

‘To manage this issue, HEE will comply with GMC guidance that states if a trainee misses more than two weeks (when a trainee would normally be at work), over and above annual leave, that the satisfactory training progression of a trainee should be reviewed at their next Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP).’