Covid19 - Context still key in Fitness to Practise

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Covid19 - Context still key in Fitness to Practise
By: Anonymous | Published On: 15/01/21 10:38 pm

Statutory regulators of health and social care professionals reaffirm commitment to consider context in any fitness to practise investigations recognising the circumstances presented by the coronavirus.

In March 2020, the UK’s statutory regulators of health and social care professionals jointly issued a statement outlining its approach to considering fitness to practise issues that might arise in relation to health and social care professionals working under extreme pressure and stress as a consequence of the coronavirus.

Issues faced by healthcare professionals

Contextual factors in fitness to practise, in the context of the coronavirus, has been extensively written about.  The realities of clinical practice in the context of the coronavirus can be defined as:

  • Stress and anxiety – There is no doubt the Coronavirus has added to the stress and anxiety felt by healthcare professionals that existed before the Coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Clinical decisions – The pandemic has required difficult clinical decisions of healthcare professionals. I know from working with clinicians and other healthcare professionals that these decisions often needed to be made in the “heat of the moment”.  The unique circumstances presented by the virus also required unique solutions and decisions that, at times, might not fully have complied with established practice and guidance.
  • Areas of practice – Linked to the point above, clinicians and other healthcare professionals might have to depart, possibly significantly, from their specialist area of practice to care for patients in the highly challenging but time-bound circumstances of the peak of a pandemic.
  • Environment – The flexibility required of all healthcare professionals might also include working at different and unfamiliar places of work and with different teams and colleagues.

Joint Statement

In the most recent joint statement, the chief executives of the statutory regulators said:

“We recognise that in highly challenging circumstances, professionals may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for patients and people using health and social care services. Our regulatory standards are designed to be flexible and to provide a framework for decision-making in a wide range of situations. They support professionals by highlighting the key principles which should be followed, including the need to work cooperatively with colleagues to keep people safe, to practise in line with the best available evidence, to recognise and work within the limits of their competence, and to have appropriate indemnity arrangements relevant to their practice.

We recognise that the individuals on our registers may feel anxious about how context is taken into account when concerns are raised about their decisions and actions in very challenging circumstances. Where a concern is raised about a registered professional, it will always be considered on the specific facts of the case, taking into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working. We would also take account of any relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time.”

Fitness to Practise Defence Barrister

I am a leading Fitness to Practise Defence Barrister vast experience defending healthcare professionals facing fitness to practise proceedings before all of the UK’s healthcare regulators:

If you have been notified by your regulatory body that you’re under investigation or are facing difficulties with your registration, contact me today for an initial free and no obligation consultation on 0207 060 1983 or

Disclaimer: This article is for guidance purposes only. Kings View Chambers accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken, or not taken, in relation to this article. You should seek the appropriate legal advice having regard to your own particular circumstances.