COVID-19 & The Bar: Do barristers have to go to court?
In this blog, we look at the position as it stands for doctors, with the intention of providing some reassurance in these difficult times. This is obviously an evolving situation and regulators will undoubtedly review and update their advice in line with the UK government’s guidance as that inevitably continues to change.
On 3 March 2020, the General Medical Council (GMC), together with the other health and care regulators released a joint statement outlining their approach to regulation in light of COVID-19. The full statement can be accessed here.
Importantly, the statement recognises that “professionals may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for patients and people using health and social care services...” and reassures that “our regulatory standards are designed to be flexible and to provide a framework for decision-making in a wide range of situations”.
In addition to the joint statement, the GMC has published specific guidance for doctors on its website, from which the following key points emerge:
Evidently, given the risk of infection, the guidance also helpfully covers what doctors should do if they know or suspect they are infected, which includes self-isolating.
The COVID-19 outbreak is new territory and it has meant that frontline staff are tremendously stretched. To assist, the government is expected to ask the GMC to give temporary registration to 15,000 doctors who left the register or gave up their licence to practise in the last 3 years. A guide to which can be accessed here.
The key factors you need to be aware of are as follows:
These are unprecedented times, and therefore you may be faced with dilemmas which are new to you. It is clear the GMC and other regulatory bodies are committed to transparency during this outbreak, and that their ultimate priority is the protection of life. Nonetheless, you will remain accountable for the decisions you make, and must be able to evidence your decision-making in the same way you would otherwise do outside of such a crisis. This means that your clinical records will need to be clear and robust. Further, internal processes such as incident reporting should be used where you are sufficiently concerned about issues which arise.
The GMC has committed to regularly updating its advice for doctors as the situation develops, but should you be concerned about your professional practice, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Shannett Thompson is a Senior Associate in the Regulatory team. She is a highly experienced lawyer taking the lead in defending health professionals before their regulatory bodies including the GMC. She has substantial experience in advising individuals in relation to their regulatory obligations in the wider context.
Every solicitor knows that an undertaking is serious stuff. Arguably it is the greatest power available to a solicitor. A promise, if broken, that will lead to immediate and serious consequences for the giver. As such it can be relied upon to the ends of the earth. The power of undertakings has meant that they sit at the heart of every property transaction, bridging the time gap between the sending of money and the receiving of title. They are also used in other areas of commercial life and as part of litigation. The “brand” of a solicitor’s undertaking is so powerful that little thought is given as to where their power comes from.
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R (on the application of Young) v General Medical Council  EWHC 534 (Admin).
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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).
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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.
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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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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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