The no resolution in sight, the General Medical Council has issued a statement. We also look at fitness to practise considerations.
Professor Colin Melville, Medical Director and Director for Education and Standards at the GMC, said:
‘We are deeply concerned about the cumulative impact on patients resulting from the ongoing industrial action.
‘There are many challenges facing our health services across the UK, and there is much we need to do together to address them.
‘While we do not have a role in setting terms and conditions, including pay, and it is not for us to take sides in these disputes, it is vital that all parties work to reach a long-term solution. Doing so will benefit patients, doctors, and the future of our health services.’
Doctors on Strike – Fitness to Practise Considerations
- Good medical practice (GMP) continues to apply – Whilst the GMP does not prevent a doctor from taking part in strike action, doctors must understand that the duties and responsibilities under the GMP continue to apply.
- Working within limits and competency – Industrial action will also impact on doctors who do not participate. The GMP is clear that doctors must recognise and work within the limits of their competence. Doctors might find themselves in situations that are unfamiliar or asked to undertake duties beyond the limits of their competence. Under these circumstances, doctors must seek advice from senior colleagues or managers.
- Raising concerns about patient safety – Linked to the above, doctors should also report and escalate concerns where they feel patient safety is being put at risk, in light of the GMC’s “Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety” guidance.
- Handover, communication and continuation of care – The BMA’s guidance states that where a shift has started before the beginning of the strike, doctors should ensure the shift is completed even if it crosses over into the period of the strike. This is because doctors are required to “contribute to the safe transfer of patients between healthcare providers and between health and social care providers”.
- Complaints and justification – Whilst the right to take industrial action is protected by UK employment law, doctors can still be held to account for their decisions. Doctors, who face fitness to practise complaints arising from their participation in industrial action, must be in a position to justify their decisions
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