Hospital Dr News

Government seeks to recruit retired docs and med students to Covid-19 battle

The NHS is trying to recruit both retired doctors and medical students to help manage the Covid-19 pandemic and plug emerging staff gaps.

The GMC is contacting doctors who may be granted temporary registration to help, outlining the process they would need to follow and informing them of what they should do if they want to opt out.

Under Section 18a of the Medical Act 1983 the Secretary of State for Health can, in an emergency, ask the GMC to automatically grant temporary registration to doctors who are not currently in practice.

As part of its planning and preparation, the regulator is now writing to those doctors with a UK address, who are fully qualified and experienced, of good standing, and who have given up their registration or licence to practise within the last three years.

In all around 15,000 doctors will be contacted.

The Royal College of Physicians supported the move. It’s president, Professor Andrew Goddard, commented: “In exceptional times, exceptional measures are necessary.

“Reducing paperwork, allowing staff to move outside of their normal duties and encouraging nearly qualified staff and those who may have recently retired into the workforce is welcome.

“It is key that the NHS uses the skills and experiences of these people appropriately to provide additional capacity in an across the NHS and Social Care.”

The rate of infection from Covid-19 among health workers has been significantly higher in Italy that in comparison with the rest of the population, reports suggest.

The Royal College called for the immediate roll out of priority testing for NHS and social care staff, and their families – so they can self-quarantine promptly and then return to the front line.

Goddard said: “More than ever, doctors and their colleagues are putting their own health and wellbeing on the line and we must keep looking for ways in which to support and protect them in the coming weeks and months.”

The plans come as reports suggest some hospitals are struggling to source sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their staff.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had “stockpiles” of PPE.

The BMA said some doctors have gone to DIY stores, in desperation, to buy masks, because none are available where they work. Others have had to ask at building sites.

Furthermore, some staff also have not had the opportunity to have masks test-fitted ahead of treating patients. The fitting is crucial for the masks to provide protection. 

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA Chair of Council said: “The Government must find a reliable way to substantially increase the production and distribution of PPE. If any healthcare worker, treating someone with Covid-19 was to become ill, or worse, due to a lack of PPE, the consequences will be dire and the impact on patient care catastrophic.”

The Government has said that its ‘lock down’ measures could ‘turn the tide’ on Covid-19 in 12 weeks.

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