Dealing with Coronavirus
We are all facing a worrying time. A time in which we seek to keep ourselves, our loved ones, colleagues and patients safe and healthy, as well as seeking reassurance that we will overcome the challenges of the fast-evolving Coronavirus outbreak as soon as possible.
As a regulated health professional you have an important role to play in the concerted effort to combat the spread of Coronavirus .
We want to remind you that our position and advice is that you continue to follow the latest NHS and government guidance and that you signpost your patients to relevant information.
You will be unsurprised that we are considering changing our working arrangements and it is likely that the GCC team will be moving to new ways of working to avoid travel and contact as advised from Monday 23rd March. It will be business as usual in terms of telephone numbers, email addresses and so on. Any planned meetings are being held using video conferencing. We have taken the difficult decision to postpone the forthcoming Test of Competence until June. We are in touch with education providers regarding their students and expectations of final year students.
These are fast changing and uncertain times for all of us, so please be assured that we will update you again should things change significantly.
Many questions and concerns have been raised by registrants, and we respond here in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs below)
How should I manage treatments and the clinic?
There is no specific guidance around how chiropractors should manage their clinics, and much depends on individual circumstances. As stated above you must have regard to guidance, especially those patients identified as being at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19.
We are aware that some chiropractors have chosen to close their practices during this time although we do not expect you to.
Decisions about how and who to treat are for you. The physical environment must be safe. The GCC encourages you to undertake a risk assessment specific to your situation and clinic to determine the best course of action for you, your staff and your patients. It is important that patients understand all the risks and their consent is given and recorded. Your decision to provide clinical care must be in their best interest.
For patients in need of your care you may judge that it is safe to treat them, provided you are satisfied that they do not present with COVID-19 symptoms and you have explained to them the risk of being in contact with others. In doing so, you will wish to be vigilant about your own health – minimising the opportunity for transmission.
As a matter of routine you may wish to contact your patients and either defer their care during this time or use alternative methods to provide treatment and support – including by telephone. You may wish to include general advice on your website.
If patients wish to cancel their appointments then they should be able to do so without penalty charges and advise this is communicated clearly to them.
You should also refer to guidance issued recently from your professional association and the Royal College of Chiropractors.
Will the GCC waive this year’s CPD requirements?
No. We will, of course, take a proportionate approach to this year’s CPD as there are over five months of the current CPD year left. We are aware that some CPD events are being cancelled at this time. Remember that the CPD scheme allows for informal learning with others through case discussions with colleagues and peers (which can occur using technology) and for learning remotely through webinars and so on.
In terms of our requirements around First Aid this year we have asked you to reflect on your own first aid skills and competencies and what you have done or plan to do to ensure your current and ongoing skills and competencies are up to date. If you are unable to undertake training this CPD year then your reflections will need to include your plans
My financial situation has been affected. Will the GCC be able to refund my fees?
All registrants have paid their fees to be registered up until 31st December this year. Some registrants are currently paying in instalments toward next year’s fees. Retention fees for 2021 must still be paid to the GCC by 30th November. Whilst we recognise that these are difficult times financially, we have no powers to waive or reduce these fees. We would encourage you to investigate any financial support that might be available from the Government, if appropriate.
What happens if a patient makes a complaint during this time?
For standard cases received we will have to investigate as we do normally. In the current context you may well be making decisions that change the way you would normally practise and in doing so may result in a complaint being made. If we receive a complaint, we must investigate; we encourage you to have a documented audit trail of your decision making. You will be aware from our newsletter articles and reports that many complaints relate to communication with patients. We encourage you to document any changes you implement, risk assessments made and any communication you have with your patients.
We also refer you to the earlier joint statement that we issued in collaboration with the other healthcare regulators, which can be found on our website: https://www.gcc-uk.org/news/entry/covid-19-joint-regulation-statement
Any statement suggesting that spinal adjustment and/or manipulation may protect patients from contracting COVID-19 or aid recovery is likely to be in breach of the requirements set out in the Code and action will be taken accordingly.
Is the GCC still running the Test of Competence?
For the welfare of our assessors and applicants from all over the world we have taken the decision to postpone the Test of Competence due to be held on 26th March and all applicants will be asked to sit the TOC in June instead. This is in line with the practices of other regulatory bodies.
Will the GCC still hold Professional Conduct Panels at the current time?
Following the latest Government advice regarding the coronavirus outbreak, in order to support the health and wellbeing of all the individuals involved the GCC, as other regulatory bodies, will not be holding any Professional Conduct Panels due to take place between 23 March 2020 and 29 May 2020, and which will be adjourned.
Our intention is to re-list the substantive matters for the first open date after 12 weeks, but the position will be kept under review as the situation evolves and considering Government guidance.
In a small number of cases, urgent hearings or applications will proceed where necessary. These may be dealt with remotely and we will contact relevant stakeholders directly in relation to these as appropriate.
If you wish to contact us, including to send us documents or to contact us about an application or a forthcoming hearing, please do so by email to Adjudication@gcc-uk.org.
Finally, if you need to contact us please do so, preferably via email and we will respond as soon as possible.
We hope you all stay safe and well. Thank you for your support in this difficult situation.