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If you are moved from other clinical areas to support work on Covid-19, your employer should make an assessment on the ability to continue to deliver safe and effective care in the services/areas affected.
Your employer has a duty to ensure that steps are being taken to mitigate any safety risks that may occur if you are moved to other areas and that these are recorded.
In all cases:
It states: “Patients must not be exposed to unnecessary risk. Difficult decisions may need to be made quickly about what is the safest and best course of action at any given time.
“When deciding the safest and best course of action in the circumstances, doctors should consider factors including:
It is important to note that while there may be mitigating circumstances many of the usual criteria by which doctors’ fitness to practice is judged will still apply during this period. Therefore, HCSA would advise a cautious approach to risk which is mindful of the GMC guidance.
You are also advised to review the NHS England and NHS Improvement publication Advice on acute sector workforce models during COVID-19.
I have been told that I will be redeployed to help tackle Covid-19. Can I be made to work in a different area of medicine?
Advice: In view of the scale of the crisis, it is reasonable for an employer to ask you to act outside of your normal role and staff are obliged to follow the employer’s lawful and reasonable management instructions. A failure to do so might be considered a disciplinary matter.
However, if you feel pressure to undertake duties in a way that you do not consider to be safe or if you are asked to work in ways that you do not feel competent, then you should immediately challenge the request with management as advised above.
The earlier this is done the better.
This should be in, or confirmed in, writing. In expressing the challenge, it is important to outline your relevant inexperience and/or lack of training, the consequential risk to patient safety and, therefore, your reluctance to treat patients in some or all of the circumstances being demanded by your employer.
Identify the procedures and expertise required in the environment that it is proposed to redeploy you to, or where you have been redeployed to, and then make an objective assessment of those which you believe that you have the expertise to engage in safely.
Immediately inform management (and make a written note at the time of this for your records) of the procedures and expertise required that you do not believe that you have the competence to engage in safely and explain the rationale for your opinion. Do not undertake activities that you cannot perform safely but do perform those that you believe you can deliver safely. Consider recommending to management options for the reallocation of responsibilities such that overall capacity for the safe delivery of treatment is enhanced.
Seek additional training and guidance as far as you reasonably can in the circumstances. This can include preparing for work in a new setting by accessing online or local training to help improve your knowledge and skills in advance.
HCSA National Officers will support members in resisting unreasonable and unsafe requests.
© Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association 2019
HCSA - the Hospital Doctors' Union is a professional association and trade union affiliated to the Trades Union Congress.