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GMC asks 5,000 unlicensed GPs to return to work in coronavirus crisis



The GMC is contacting 15,000 doctors – including nearly 5,000 GPs – who may be granted temporary registration to help to deal with coronavirus.

It is currently writing to those who gave up their registration or licence to practise within the last three years but are still considered ‘fully qualified, experienced and of good standing’, with a UK address. 

Around 33% – almost 5,000 – of these are GPs. The vast majority of the doctors (83%) are in England, with 10%; 4% and 3% in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. 

Their average age is 53, although approximately 32% are aged 44 or younger.

Temporary registration for these doctors would be automatic and allow them to work if they wanted to, but they can opt out for any reason.

In these instances, the GMC would not grant temporary registration. Doctors are also permitted to change their mind at any time, including if they initially opt out, but then decide at a later stage of the pandemic to return to practice. At no stage will they be obliged to work.

Under emergency legislation, health secretary Matt Hancock has powers to ask the GMC to automatically grant temporary registration to doctors who are not currently in practice.

Once this takes place, the contact details of the eligible cohort of doctors would be shared with the UK’s health services, who would then contact each member in due course, to discuss the logistics of them returning to work. 

Una Lane, director of registration and revalidation at the GMC, said: ‘We expect the UK Government to ask us to grant temporary registration to doctors living in the UK who are not currently in practice. We know many will be keen to help, but we also understand that many will have questions and concerns.

‘Temporary registration allows doctors to work in the NHS, but it would be up to each individual whether or not to do so. Doctors can opt out for any reason and they can change their mind at any time.

‘The potential deployment of these doctors, and any questions relating to their pay or pensions, are matters for the NHS and the UK Governments.’

Doctors who have temporary registration during this crisis will not be required to pay any registration fee to the GMC, nor be subject to revalidation.

Yesterday, the GMC also announced that it will defer revalidation for current GPs, to ‘free up vital time’ on the coronavirus ‘frontline’.

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