Coronavirus Act: how the emergency legislation will impact healthcare professionals
Following pressure to fast-track its procedures, the General Medical Council (GMC) agreed to offer early provisional registration to final year medical students once they have graduated, and early full registration of Foundation Year 1 (FY1) doctors. These graduates and doctors will need to “opt in” and the GMC requires they receive adequate induction and supervision, as well as full necessary personal protective equipment and training on how to use it appropriately.
Medical schools will need to confirm that any final year student who applies for early provisional registration has graduated and is not subject to any fitness to practise considerations. Medical schools are prioritising teaching and assessment for final year students, to enable them to graduate early, with many (virtual) graduations already starting to take place over the last week.
In order to graduate early, these students must have been deemed by their medical school to have met the GMC’s Outcomes for Graduates. This will mean that, if they are willing to do so, final year students who have graduated, will be able to join the workforce and work as FY1 doctors as soon as practicable.
The Foundation Programme is a two year training programme whereby medical graduates have the opportunity to gain experience in a series of placements across a variety of specialties and healthcare settings. This training forms the bridge between medical school and specialty training. By the end of foundation year 1, doctors begin to take supervised responsibility for patient care, including prescribing under supervision. By the end of foundation year 2, doctors are able to take on increasing responsibility for patient care, including a wider range of prescribing responsibilities and making care management decisions.
In order to apply for full registration, FY1 doctors will need to provide a Certificate of Experience from their foundation school, which demonstrates they have met the requirements set out in the GMC’s Outcomes for Provisionally Registered Doctors. The GMC states that these doctors will stay within their current placements to ensure they are familiar with the work and training settings, but could be asked to undertake a broader range of duties.
Early registration will go a long way to assist hospitals as they struggle to cope with the outbreak. Nevertheless, it is vital that healthcare professionals are not expected to perform any duties that go beyond their level of competence, as this could create serious risks for patients.
In practical terms, the GMC and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have recognised that these are challenging times and it is likely that members will, in some situations, need to depart from established procedures to care for patients. The GMC has acknowledged that doctors may be working in unfamiliar circumstances or surroundings, or in clinical areas outside of their usual practice. They advise their members that “[a]ll doctors have a duty to recognise and work within their competence. But in these exceptional circumstances, doctors at every level may be required to work at the limits of their comfort zone and in some cases beyond.”
In another recent blog, we discussed the conflict between social distancing and nurses’ obligations to look after patients: individual practitioners must keep in mind the limits of their competence when making decisions about whether to agree to redeployment.
Sadly, we have seen the first deaths of NHS frontline staff due to Coronavirus. This, together with reports of increasing numbers of NHS workers testing positive for the virus, has fuelled the debate over death-in-service benefits for NHS staff, particularly for those returning to help tackle the deadly virus, as they would not be eligible for death-in-service payments. A similar issue arises in relation to serving NHS workers who have opted out of the NHS Pension Scheme (which provides a tax-free lump sum payment equivalent to two times the annual salary, as well as pension benefits for six months, to the families of members who die in service) as they would receive a greatly reduced payment. Additionally, as many General Practitioners are self-employed, they would not be covered by death benefit payments if they died on a day that they were not contracted to work. The Guardian has reported that “[h]undreds of doctors have said they are less likely to return to the frontline or increase their hours to fight Covid-19 because they fear their families will not be properly compensated if they die”.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has called on the government to automatically extend enhanced death-in-service cover to all NHS workers, including those returning on a temporary basis and those who have opted out of the pension scheme. This would ensure that all NHS workers receive the same level of death benefits, and would go a long way to reassuring staff working tirelessly to fight the pandemic that their families will not be left in financial difficulty should the worst occur. You can read the BMA’s FAQs on the benefits here.
It is clear that the increasing spread of coronavirus is putting NHS services across the health and care sectors under extreme pressure. Measures have been put in place to help facilitate increased staff levels; however, further issues need to be addressed by the Government, as outlined above, to ease the burden currently experienced by frontline workers and to ensure a safe working environment.
We have received many questions from frontline health and social care staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read these FAQs here.
We continue to support the NHS throughout this difficult time #NHSHeroes #clapforNHS
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This week, the Government announced that Covid-19 vaccinations will be made compulsory for care home staff, raising strong emotions on both sides of the argument.
Gone are the days of computer gaming being viewed as a secluded activity; gaming is now a thoroughly social experience that attracts a global audience of millions and players can compete for large sums of money and celebrity. This burgeoning industry is largely in a virtual world and has developed in a blockchain, decentralised fashion. Often the UK government talks up the UK gaming industry and how keen the government is to support this sector, and there have been instances that show support, but when it comes to playing games competitively, law and regulations have not yet caught up.
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Wray v General Osteopathic Council  EWHC 3409 (QB)
Mr Wray (‘Mr W’), an osteopath, appeared before a Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee (‘PCC’) of the General Osteopathic Council (‘GOsC’) after self-reporting a series of events he had been involved in.
In this 3-part tech blog series, we’ve explored how legal and accountancy regulators are driving and responding to changes in technology and innovation in their respective professions. We’ve also considered the commercial perspective, looking at interesting developments in these sectors , particularly around the use of artificial intelligence (AI).
In this second blog in our technology and innovation series, we look at some recent developments in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal and accountancy sectors.
On 18 November 2020, the government confirmed that it is proceeding with planned changes to the Victims' Code, following a consultation that began on 5 March 2020. The changes mean that when the revised Code comes into force, it will be based on a clearly defined set of rights that set out a minimum level of service that can be expected from criminal justice agencies. It is hoped that the changes will mean victims have a greater awareness of their rights, receive the information and support when then need it and have a greater level of satisfaction with the treatment they receive in the criminal justice system.
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All providers registered with the Care Quality Commission (“CQC) must assure themselves that all directors who are responsible for delivering care to service users are fit and proper – in other words, they must be able to diligently carry out their responsibility to ensure the quality and safety of care. This forms part of the providers’ duty to ensure the service is well-led, which is one of the focus points during an inspection. Not only does the CQC monitor compliance at the point of registration, but it is an on-going duty and can lead to enforcement action where it is not met.
Private prosecutions provide an effective way to seek justice; and particularly in circumstances when the traditional prosecuting agencies are unable or unwilling to act. Conducted appropriately they can be a useful, efficient and cost-effective tool to secure punishment of the guilty. Conducted badly they can be an expensive mistake with far reaching consequences.
In this blog series we draw on our experience of both bringing and defending private prosecutions to help clarify some of the common myths and misunderstandings about private prosecutions. In this blog we look at whether the private prosecutor is entitled to recover their full investigation and legal fees at the end of the case.
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The Charities Commission has recently warned that fraudsters are exploiting the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to carry out fraud and cybercrime against charities. Unfortunately, in our experience, the likelihood of the police taking action against these individuals is low. In the current climate it is easy to understand why the use of private prosecutions is firmly on the rise. In the past, some charities have been criticised for having an overzealous approach to the conduct of their private prosecutions. In this blog, we highlight the importance of taking a few simple steps to ensure that charities who conduct private prosecutions are beyond reproach.
With BBC reports that there have been 178,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour in the last four weeks across England and Wales alone, if a solicitor receives a fixed penalty notice for a non-essential journey away from home - do they have to inform the SRA?
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In our previous blog, we discussed the introduction of the Coronavirus Act and how the emergency legislation impacts healthcare professionals. Understandably however, the situation is constantly evolving and the position must be regularly reassessed. With this in mind, we discuss below some of the recent, key updates impacting the healthcare workforce.
Last week we provided you with detail on the guidance to be aware of as a manager or owner of a care/domiciliary home in light of the current pandemic. The guidance is of course changing given the nature of the outbreak, so please read on for the key updates:
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recently issued guidance to athletes in which acknowledges the difficulties that the Covid-19 pandemic will cause, not just for athletes, but for the entire sporting community who are committed to protecting clean sport
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