Joint statement on flexible response needed in coronavirus outbreak

A JOINT statement has been issued by the UK national chief medical officers and the GMC acknowledging that the coronavirus outbreak will require a flexible response which may entail healthcare professionals working in unfamiliar circumstances or surroundings, or in clinical areas outside "usual practice".

The statement confirms the expectation that NHS and HSC services in primary and secondary care and public health across all four nations will be put under "extreme pressure" if COVID-19 becomes an significant epidemic in the UK. Staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities will inevitably exacerbate such pressure.

It states: "We want doctors, in partnership with patients, always to use their professional judgement to assess risk and to make sure people receive safe care, informed by the values and principles set out in their professional standards. A rational approach to varying practice in an emergency is part of that professional response.

"It is the responsibility of GP practices, hospitals, trusts and health boards to ensure that clinicians working in their organisations are supported to do this. They must bear in mind that clinicians may need to depart, possibly significantly, from established procedures in order to care for patients in the highly challenging but time-bound circumstances of the peak of an epidemic."

Read the full statement here