Annual report 2020

Case studies on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Managing the medical register

17,227
doctors joined the medical register for the first time.

4,755
doctors joined the specialist register.

2,970
doctors joined the GP register.

For the first time since September 1940, we used our emergency powers to grant temporary emergency registration to doctors. 80 years after it was needed during World War II, in March 2020, our health services were once more faced with a monumental crisis.

Adapting and expanding our Clinical Assessment Centre

6,331
doctors took PLAB 1 in 2020

3,640
doctors took PLAB 2 in 2020

With the onset of the pandemic, we had to close our Clinical Assessment Centre, where internationally qualified doctors take the PLAB 2 exam as part of their registration application process.

Addressing the impact of the pandemic on medical education and training

We carried out
86 quality assurance visits

and found
7 areas of good practice

but also
5 areas requiring improvement

We worked closely with undergraduate and postgraduate deans, trusts, boards, colleges, trainee representatives and statutory education bodies across the UK to ensure robust quality assurance of medical education and training throughout the pandemic.

Investigating and acting on concerns

8,468
concerns were raised with us in 2020

6,318
were made by a member of the public

707
were related to the pandemic

In 2020, we progressed open cases where we could, but we knew that some employers and doctors wouldn’t be able to assist with our investigations at such a critical time. This meant that some cases progressed more slowly, or not at all for a time.

Introducing flexibility around revalidation dates

We received
32,661
revalidation recommendations.

We made 99%
of revalidation recommendations within 5 working days.

30,837 doctors
were revalidated.

In March 2020, we wrote to all responsible officers (ROs) to explain that we were changing revalidation dates for doctors who were due to revalidate between 17 March and the end of September 2020. Deferring revalidation dates enabled doctors to focus on providing the best possible patient care during the pandemic.

Providing guidance and advice to doctors through a new online resource hub

Our Standards team answered over
756 ethical enquiries

280
of which were related to COVID-196.

To the end of 2020,
over 87,000 people
had accessed the hub.

The pandemic posed unique challenges to doctors working in the UK’s healthcare systems. It was essential to provide clear, targeted guidance to support medical professionals in challenging situations.

Supporting doctors to apply our ethical guidance

Our Outreach teams
engaged with over
13,500 doctors

280
of which were related to COVID-196.

Over 3,700
doctors attended our virtual
Welcome to UK practice workshops

Kelly Tully, Senior Regional Liaison Adviser, joined our Outreach team in the midst of the pandemic.

‘It became apparent early on that our team would need to adjust our approach to the role to meet the changes lockdown and the pandemic would bring.'

Using insight to support the profession and sharing data to inform important workforce discussions

Between January and March, around 13,000 doctors responded to our Completing the picture survey. The survey focused on the causes behind doctors stopping practising medicine in the UK and the barriers preventing them from returning to practice. The findings provided us and our partners with fresh insights into key issues affecting the maintenance and development of the medical workforce.