The call for emergency legislation to protect doctors from GMC investigations for rationing decisions made during the Coronavirus crisis
The Medical Protection defence organisation has called for the introduction of emergency legislation to protect doctors and other healthcare workers, especially those making difficult decisions on ventilator priority; in my view if the GMC were to update its regulatory response, emergency legislation shouldn’t be necessary."
However, in my view emergency legislation is not the answer. Yes, the UK Government could introduce such a sweeping new law very quickly. New York State demonstrated such is possible with the Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act (‘EDTPA’). This provides any healthcare facility, professional or volunteer with immunity from civil or criminal liability for any harm or damage that may result from treatment of individuals with Covid-19. However crucially, that immunity does not extend to regulatory action against doctors."
The GMC should not continue to bury its head in the sand on this issue but should stand up and be counted. In the meantime, doctors are well advised to ensure they are keeping contemporaneous notes setting out the decisions they have taken, how they reached those decisions, any guidance or assistance sought in reaching those decisions, and reference to relevant resources, guidelines or protocols in force at the time."
The full article was published by Pulse on 21 May 2020. The GMC’s reassurances to GPs around Covid have been meagre.
Julie Norris is a partner in the Regulatory Team. She specialises in advising in the health, professional services, legal and financial fields, advising professionals, businesses and regulators on regulatory compliance, investigations, adjudication, enforcement and prosecutions.
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