Am I covered?
Indemnity for all NHS clinical negligence liabilities relating to the coronavirus pandemic are being provided for by the four UK Governments.
This will either occur through existing state-backed NHS indemnity schemes or through new arrangements established by the relevant health department. This will ensure that you are legally protected for the work you undertake as part of the COVID-19 response.
Working outside your usual scope of practice
Depending on the circumstances, it may be reasonable for you to be asked to work outside your normal scope of practice. However, you should work within your competence. If you are asked to perform tasks you do not feel competent to carry out, you should explain your concerns immediately to those in charge of the practice, and ask that other arrangements are made.
In an emergency, where there are no alternatives available, you should provide the safest care that you are able to provide in the circumstances, with the aim of providing overall benefit for the patient.
NHS clinical negligence indemnity schemes will cover any GP working outside their normal field of practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If your clinical duties within the NHS have changed as a result of the need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic you may need to inform your medical defence organisation to ensure you maintain your personal/professional indemnity cover.
If you have returned to the workforce
As for all GPs, you will be legally indemnified for the work you undertake as part of the COVID-19 response through NHS clinical negligence indemnity arrangements.
Doctors returning to the clinical workforce are advised to ensure they have suitable personal/professional indemnity cover from a medical defence organisation – the MDU, MPS and MDDUS have advised that returning members will be provided with free of charge.
Returning GPs should contact their previous MDO to explore this further.
Adhering to Good Medical Practice
The GMC’s ‘Good Medical Practice’ guidance provides a framework for ethical decision making in a wide range of situations – GPs should continue to follow this as far as is practical in the circumstances.
Any concerns that are raised with the GMC about a GP will continue to be judged against this overarching guidance.
the GMC has stated that doctors will not be held unfairly to account for very difficult decisions made in very challenging circumstances. Through a joint statement from the UK’s statutory regulators of health and care professionals, it provided guidance on how it would respond if it received complaints about the decisions made by doctors during the pandemic.