Former doctors volunteering for NHS frontline to help tackle COVID-19 pandemic must have proper protection, says BMA

by BMA media team Press release from the BMA.
Location: UK
Published: Friday 20 March 2020
Contract and pen article illustration

Responding to the call for former doctors to return to the frontline of the NHS to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair said: “We need to have as many NHS staff as we possibly can because of the crisis we are in. Given the wealth of knowledge and experience of recently retired doctors and nurses, they are going to be invaluable in the coming weeks and months.

“However, like all frontline staff, recently retired workers need confidence that they will be properly protected with safe and adequate Personal Protection Equipment. This remains the number one concern for the majority of staff and it needs to be put in place without any further delay.

“If doctors decide to voluntarily return to work, they will also need to be reassured they’ll receive training if needs be and that all regulatory and contractual arrangements will be correctly applied. Additionally, many retired doctors are of an age or may have medical conditions that places them at higher risk so their health and wellbeing should not be put in danger as a result of them returning to work.

“At the other end of the work spectrum are senior year medical students who are also being asked to volunteer. They too must have adequate support and appropriate training and supervision. It is also important that medical students stepping into any role are absolutely clear on what duties they can be expected to perform in order to avoid the risk of being asked to act beyond their level of competency.

“Additionally, it is crucial that there is national consistency for employment contracts in order to ensure our members are adequately protected and patient care isn’t compromised. The BMA has written to NHS Employers to discuss a national framework contract that can secure such consistency in England, and will be exploring this for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as soon as possible.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

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