Retired medics

Publication date: 01 March 2020

Dr Jonathan Leach, Honorary Secretary of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It’s encouraging that the Government is exploring different options should the Covid-19 situation intensify, in order to ensure that the NHS and other public services are able to cope.

"Retired healthcare professionals have a huge amount to offer the health service, and many would do so willingly, but any drafting in of their skills to help deal with Covid-19 would need to be their choice and with their full understanding of the situation and any associated risks, and that every effort is made to ensure they are protected.

"We need to see the details of how this plan would work, but it might be that retired medics are not treating Covid-19 patients face-to-face, but helping out in other ways that increase capacity in the system, for example doing telephone and online consultations, providing aftercare for patients after treatment or providing clinical expertise on NHS 111. There will also be logistical issues, such as getting people back on medical or nursing registers, that would need to be thought through.

"In the meantime, everyone has a part to play in helping the UK to contain Covid-19, so that these measures don't need to be implemented, such as practising good hand hygiene and if they think they might have Covid-19, do not go to the GP practice or A&E but call NHS 111.

"We are in an ever-changing situation but the most important thing is to keep it in perspective and not to be alarmed. If they have symptoms, it is still most likely that they have the flu or a common cold.

"It's vital that everyone is on the same page about Covid-19 and GPs are following advice from relevant authorities, such as Public Health England (PHE) and equivalent organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7494/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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