15,000 doctors invited to return to NHS frontline to fight coronavirus

The GMC is writing to 15,000 doctors who stopped practising medicine in the last three years to say they will be automatically re-registered to allow them to support the NHS in its coronavirus response.

GMC has written to retired GPs (Photo: Mike Harrington/Getty Images)
GMC has written to retired GPs (Photo: Mike Harrington/Getty Images)

GPonline revealed earlier this month that 15,000 doctors - including an estimated 5,000 GPs - could be invited to return to work under emergency powers.

The GMC has confirmed that it will write on 20 March to 'those doctors with a UK address, who are fully qualified and experienced, of good standing, and who have given up their registration or licence to practise within the last three years'.

Doctors will be automatically registered to work unless they choose to opt out, the regulator has said - although they will be under no obligation to take on shifts - and will not have to pay for registration. These doctors will also not be required to take part in revalidation - which has now been suspended for all doctors.

GMC registration

A letter to these 15,000 doctors explains what they need to do to be available for work during the COVID-19 outbreak and what they need to do if they wish to opt out of returning to work.

Once doctors are registered, their contact details will be sent to health services in the part of the UK where they live so that they can be contacted to discuss 'if, how, where and when they might be asked to work'.

GMC director of registration and revalidation Una Lane said: ‘We expect the UK government to ask us to grant temporary registration to doctors living in the UK who are not currently in practice. We know many will be keen to help, but we also understand that many will have questions and concerns.

‘Temporary registration allows doctors to work in the NHS, but it would be up to each individual whether or not to do so. Doctors can opt out for any reason and they can change their mind at any time.

Pensions

‘The potential deployment of these doctors, and any questions relating to their pay or pensions, are matters for the NHS and the UK governments.’

The GMC is allowing GPs to return to work under section 18a of the Medical Act 1983, which allows the health and social care secretary to call on the regulator to temporarily register doctors not currently working in an emergency.

Doctors who may be in high-risk groups for coronavirus could be asked to work, for example, in telephone triage roles rather than working in face-to-face frontline roles.

Retired doctors have also been assured by the government that returning to work will not affect their pension rights.

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