Information and advice from the Medical Council of Ireland

Medical Council advice for doctors in relation to Covid-19

Please see below for some important updates from the Medical Council of Ireland, which we were asked to share with all RCPI doctors.

Doctors on the Trainee Specialist Division/Supervised Division 

Any site designated as a clinical site in this emergency will be deemed appropriate for doctors on either the Specialist Trainee Division or the Supervised Division provided it is under the supervision of nearest hospital or a Senior Clinician. In the current health crisis doctors may be asked to perform duties that are outside their current scope of practice. We recognise this may be necessary, but all tasks and roles carried out should be within a doctor’s capabilities and with adequate supervision.

Medical Ethics 

The Medical Council acknowledges the exceptional circumstances faced by medical practitioners in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland, which will pose considerable medical, ethical, and societal challenges. The Medical Council wishes to express its support for doctors in providing medical care with humanity and dignity to affected patients of all ages, beliefs and cultures. As the impact of the pandemic grows, healthcare resources may become overwhelmed. Allocation of finite healthcare resources in a way that is equitable and just will present difficult choices. Doctors have a duty to use resources prudently and fairly, to produce the most benefits possible for individuals served by those interventions.

The Medical Council recognises the difficulties that this will raise, particularly for healthcare professionals working in Intensive Care Medicine. They will need to evaluate patients and identify those with the best chance of recovery. In making decisions based on the principle of prioritising the use of scarce resources to treat those patients most likely to survive, more lives are likely to be preserved. This appraisal of the potential benefits a treatment might provide to different patients lies within the scope of experienced Intensive Care Medicine doctors. It is acknowledged that patients, families, or allied healthcare professionals, may sometimes hold different views.

The burden of decisions made by medical practitioners during this time of healthcare crisis is shared by the Medical Council and our wider society

Self-care and Doctor Health 

While providing high levels of medical care during this pandemic, doctors have a duty to protect their own health and contribute to the safety and wellbeing of other healthcare workers. Registered medical practitioners of all levels of training and experience are called upon to do their utmost in giving compassionate care to patients, and wholehearted support to each other.

Please remember that amidst the increased workload, longer hours, additional pressure and stress, please take the time to care for yourself. Take breaks, eat regularly, and get rest. All doctors are on the front-line, and the priority for doctors is to self-protect in order to protect and treat others. A sick doctor becomes a patient, while a healthy doctor can treat and see patients or remotely triage and help patients and our communities.

If you are on a Professional Competence Scheme

Please check our updates here