Are you working beyond your remit due to Covid-19?

Ms Emily Borhan

The NHS is in crisis at the moment, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and you may find that you are being asked to carry out work that you would not normally do. This may range from helping out in A&E doing minor stitches, to helping Covid-19 patients in intensive care; whatever it is, if it goes beyond your normal scope of work it gives rise to questions about your responsibilities and your indemnity.

Last year, in light of the pandemic, the Coronavirus Act 2020 was created. In the Act it states that the appropriate authority is able to indemnify you for a “qualifying liability”. What falls within the definition of “qualifying liability” is complex and you should check with your NHS Trust to ensure you have cover.

It is also important to make sure that you think about and identify the work that you do not feel comfortable doing. Medical professionals are in a vulnerable position at the moment and are being asked to carry out procedures which they do not normally do. In these situations, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help where you need it. This could be asking for clinical supervision, asking a junior doctor in the field to assist, asking for further training, or identifying what skills you do have and volunteering to help in that area.

The GMC have also released some information about working as a medical professional during the pandemic. They have acknowledged that there may be an increase in complaints as a result of time pressures and increased medical issues. They have also acknowledged the limited resources available to doctors, the problems of working in unfamiliar areas of practice and the stress and tiredness that may affect judgment or behaviour.

It is fair to say that everybody recognises that medical professionals are trying to do their best in an extremely stressful situation. Medical and governmental bodies have said the best thing you can do is respond responsibly and reasonably in the circumstances that you are faced with.

If you wish to discuss any concerns you might have or if you would like further advice on a specific issue, then please simply get in touch:

OTSIS Medicolegal Advisory Service:

Tel: 0207 9657501 / email: