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GPhC: Coronavirus to be taken into account in FtP cases

The GPhC has said it will take coronavirus into account if it receives concerns related to professionals on its register where the virus is a factor.

Health and care professionals “may feel anxious” about the decisions they have to make during the outbreak and how these could be considered if regulatory concerns are raised about their practice in these “challenging circumstances”, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) said in a joint statement released earlier this week (March 3).

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council are among 10 other regulatory bodies who agreed to the joint statement.

The regulators have reassured registered professionals that, when a concern is brought to their attention, it is always “considered on the specific facts of the case” – which could now include coronavirus.

When considering fitness to practise cases, the GPhC and other regulators will take coronavirus into account as a “factor relevant to the environment in which the professional is working”, along with any “resources, guidelines, or protocols in place at the time”.

National guidance

The regulators have advised healthcare professionals to adhere to “national public health advice and guidance” on the virus and follow “the values and principles set out in their professional standards”.  

However, they said professionals may need to “depart from established procedures” to assist patients in unusual circumstances such as these.

“We also recognise that health and care professionals may have understandable concerns about decisions they may need to take in order to provide the best care in challenging circumstances,” they added.

Healthcare teams are encouraged to use their “professional judgement to assess risk to deliver safe care”, informed by any guidance that is available, according to the statement.

“Our regulatory standards are designed to be flexible and to provide a framework for decision-making in a wide range of situations,” the regulators added.

Last week, NHS England asked pharmacies to appoint a coronavirus lead and identify a “suitable isolation space” where they could quarantine patients thought to have the virus.

As of yesterday (March 5), 115 people had tested positive for coronavirus in the UK. Last night, England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Witty reported the first UK death due to coronavirus. 

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