Our response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
From early in the pandemic we’ve worked with governments, health services, and leaders from across medical education and training in the four countries of the UK to support the response to the crisis.
We’ve also reviewed and adapted our own processes and services to continue to support the profession and, most importantly, maintain patient safety.
Responding to the immediate impact of COVID-19
As part of the immediate response to the pandemic, the UK government asked us to use our emergency powers under Section 18a of the Medical Act to give temporary registration or a licence to practise to suitable people. We were also asked to grant provisional registration to final year medical graduates, three months earlier than usual. In total we gave temporary registration to over 30,000 doctors and provisional registration to 7,500 newly qualified doctors across the four countries of the UK.
To support all doctors we developed a new ethical hub to provide information and advice about practising during challenging times. It answers commonly asked questions about topics including working safely, end of life care and remote consultations.
To support the existing workforce and enable employers to prioritise frontline work, we moved revalidation dates by one year for those who were due to revalidate between 17 March 2020 and 16 March 2021.
We also took steps to minimise the impact of our investigations, including only requesting information from employers and healthcare professionals when there was an immediate patient safety concern. After careful consideration we’ve now resumed existing cases where we can.
Continuing to support doctors and protect patients
Throughout this uncertain time, our work to quality assure medical education and training across the UK has carried on. We’ve also joined with medical schools to minimise disruption to students’ education; and we’re doing all we can to support trainees’ progression, so their long-term training needs aren’t compromised by the pandemic.
Our outreach teams are supporting medical education and practice across the four countries of the UK. Our regional liaison advisers are still available to deliver training and promote understanding of our guidance; and our employer liaison advisers continue to work with trusts and boards to address local concerns.
Although we had to pause our Professional and Linguistics Assessments Board (PLAB) tests during the pandemic, we’ve been doing all we can to restart them in a way that keeps candidates safe. We’ve also found new ways to continue our support for doctors new to the UK by launching a new online version of our popular Welcome to UK practice workshops.
As the pandemic continues, we’ll remain proportionate and flexible in our approach. And we’ll be responsive to the ongoing needs of patients, doctors and the UK’s health services. We thank all doctors and healthcare professionals for their ongoing dedication in rising to the challenge of this unprecedented time.