Ministers have been urged to implement a wide range of measures to safeguard and help doctors and medical students fight COVID-19 following the decision to move to the ‘delay’ phase in the UK.

These should include safeguards for retired doctors who the Government suggests could be asked to join the NHS for the battle against the virus.

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said the move to the delay phase would "undoubtedly put more pressure on the NHS and our members as the country works to halt the spread of the virus.

"Doctors must have the confidence to help plan and treat patients,’ he added. "They need adequate protection from the risks of workplace infections as well-resourced as possible to care for patients. At present, such confidence is lacking."

BMA safeguards for doctors

The BMA is calling for:

  • Answers to concerns raised about the suggestion to bring doctors out of retirement, specifically on issues such as GMC registration and indemnity, and how they will be protected against more serious illness should they contract COVID-19
  • Final-year medical students to no be conscripted without their consent. They must have adequate supervision and be inducted into employment and paid as if first-year foundation doctors
  • Healthcare providers to share staff to help cover staff sickness absence across the NHS
  • Extra beds and staff to boost the capacity of intensive care units
  • Better communication about stopping non-essential treatment in primary and secondary care
  • The Care Quality Commission to cease all routine inspections
  • A reduction in doctors’ bureaucratic workload
  • Investment and advice on remote and video consultations for doctors forced to self-isolate
  • Adequate supplies and quality of personal protection equipment in primary and secondary care
  • More sophisticated equipment should be available for more serious cases
  • All doctors to be given access to death in service and health retirement benefits, including those who have already retired or left the NHS pension scheme for the pension tax.

Dr Nagpaul said the BMA would continue to monitor the situation closely and keep up its dialogue with governments and health bodies in all four nations.

"At times of crisis it is also vital that we all look after our emotional as well as physical health," he added.

The BMA wellbeing support services are open to all doctors and medical students. They’re confidential and free of charge.