The General Medical Council (GMC) is contacting doctors who may be granted temporary registration to help deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.

The GMC is contacting 15,000 doctors, including nearly 5000 GPs who may be granted temporary registration, to outline the process that they would need to follow and inform them of what they should do if they want to opt out.

Those doctors who gave up their registration or licence to practise within the last three years but are still considered "fully qualified, experienced and of good standing", with a UK address, will be contacted. Around 33% of these are GPs.

The vast majority of the doctors, or 83%, are in England; with 10%, 4% and 3% in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. Their average age is 53 although approximately 32% are aged 44 or younger.

According to the GMC, under Section 18a of the "Medical Act 1983", the Health Secretary can, in an emergency, ask the Council to automatically grant temporary registration to doctors who are not currently in practice. The temporary, automatic registration for those doctors would allow them to work if they wanted to.

Doctors are able opt out for any reason. Doctors can also change their mind at any time, for example if they decided to opt out initially, and later want to work.

The GMC would not grant temporary registration to anyone who opts out.

GMC Director of Registration and Revalidation Una Lane explained: "We expect the UK Government to ask us to grant temporary registration to doctors living in the UK who are not currently in practice.

"We know many will be keen to help, but we also understand that many will have questions and concerns...The potential deployment of these doctors, and any questions relating to their pay or pensions, are matters for the NHS and the UK governments."

The GMC confirmed that doctors who have temporary registration during the emergency will not be required to pay the GMC registration fee and will not be subject to revalidation.

The GMC has also announced that it will defer revalidation for current GPs, to "free up vital time" on the Coronavirus "frontline".

The Council has published a web guide to explain more about the temporary registration process. It also provides information from the four UK governments and health services to help doctors access the information they need about the practicalities of returning to work.

Last reviewed 25 March 2020