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Covid-19: Public support for doctors’ legal protection “overwhelming”

Post date: 22/05/2020 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 22/05/2020

Doctors who have been working with stretched resources, outside of their normal area of expertise, or have returned from retirement to support the NHS on Covid-19, should be able to focus on saving lives without fear of prosecution or investigation following treatment of patients during the crisis, according to 84% of the public.

In a YouGov survey of over 2000 GB adults, commissioned by the Medical Protection Society (MPS), a further 81% believe that if a doctor decides they cannot safely see a Covid-19 patient because they have not been provided with adequate PPE, and a patient subsequently comes to harm, the doctor should not be held personally accountable.

Two thirds (67%) of the public go on to say they support the introduction of emergency laws, so doctors are protected from criminal and regulatory investigation in relation to their treatment of patients during the Covid-19 crisis.

The survey results follow MPS’s plea to the Government to introduce such laws for doctors, and its call to the GMC and NHS employers for reassurance that doctors will not be subjected to regulatory or disciplinary action following a decision or outcome that is the result of poor PPE provision.

The world’s leading protection organisation supporting over 300,000 healthcare professionals around the world now urges the Government, employers and GMC – to take heed of what it says is an overwhelming show of support from the public to better protect doctors.

Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at MPS, said: “Doctors continue to work in uniquely challenging circumstances – they are treating patients with what is still a new disease, making difficult clinical and triaging decisions, and some have even had to make a decision to not see patients due to inadequate PPE provision.

“Many are working outside of their normal area of expertise or have come out of retirement to support the NHS - in the knowledge that over 175 frontline health and care workers have lost their lives to Covid-19.

“These doctors tell us they are concerned that they will face investigation for the decisions they are making in good faith. Now more than ever, they need to know they are supported.

“It is clear from this survey that there is overwhelming public support for doctors’ protection. We hope the Government will make a bold show of its support by granting doctors legal immunity when treating patients in good faith during this crisis.

“We also hope that if and when the GMC receives complaints about doctors, they will not just stick to their commitment to fully consider the challenging position that doctors are in but also reflect on the strength of public confidence in the profession.”

END

Notes to editors

For further information contact: kate.tullett@medicalprotection.org +44 (0)7515 298791.

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.Total sample size was 2061 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st - 4th May 2020.The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About Medical Protection Society

MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.
MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

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