A message from our acting Chair, Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen

We've all had to get comfortable with change over the last 18 months or so - as change has become the status quo.

As doctors, we've gone from wrestling with the implications of a new and deadly disease, to trying to effectively treat it and then to rolling out the vaccine that helps guard against it.

Now the sands have shifted again, as we contend with the care backlog and continuous high demand that are characterising this new phase of the pandemic.

While managing uncertainty in our professional roles, we've also been dealing with the unpredictability of daily life.

On a personal level, I was not expecting to be writing to you as acting Chair of the GMC. I know many of you read, and were moved by, Dame Clare Marx's message in July, in which she explained she was stepping down due to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I'm sure you'll join me in offering her your very best wishes.

As Clare said in her message, our ability to extend kindness - to our colleagues, our patients and ourselves - is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal as practitioners.

As we look towards a challenging winter period ahead, that compassion will be more important than ever.

In my role as acting Chair and through direct patient care, interactions with colleagues and frank conversations with medical friends and relatives, I'm acutely aware of how much pressure the profession is under.

At a Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow conference a couple of weeks ago, presentation after presentation told of the strain on the system, and the fortitude of healthcare workers in grappling with it. My own speech reflected on how these conditions impact patient outcomes, and the GMC's role in improving them so doctors can thrive.

We know that the environment in which a doctor practises has a material impact on the care they provide. In the fluid and unpredictable context of a pandemic, this link is especially acute. That's why I want to reassure you that any concerns raised about a doctor over this time will take into account the extraordinary circumstances we are, and have been, living through.

Doctors have distinguished themselves during the difficulties and disruption of the last year and a half. Thank you for your skill, kindness and professionalism - I am proud to call you colleagues.