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Working for the wider benefit: Letter in support of doctors undertaking national work for the benefit of health services

21 July 2017

The four UK CMOs, the GMC Chair and the Medical Director of the NHSE have signed a letter to employers urging them to support doctors applying for absence to undertake national work for the benefit of health services. This was prompted by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the RCOphth’s own Lay Advisory Group.

The full letter is below, and available for download here.


Friday 23rd June 2017

We are writing to every employer in the Health Service throughout the UK to urge you and your Board to look favourably on requests from doctors applying for absence in order to undertake national work for the wider benefit of the public and health services across the UK. Of course a large number of Health Service organisations already support these activities and we are keen to see that continue but if there is more encouragement you can give, we believe that would bring significant benefit.

Government, statutory and executive agencies across the UK such as;

  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
  • the Committee on Human Medicines
  • the General Medical Council (GMC)
  • Research Funders
  • System Regulators (such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC)
  • professional organisations such as Medical Royal Colleges

all rely heavily on senior members of the profession, doctors and other clinicians, for their expertise and experience in a variety of roles.

The part time work these people undertake alongside their clinical duties contributes a great deal to the quality and safety of patient care, medical education and to the planning, delivery and independent assurance of the safety and effectiveness of both local and regional health services.

We understand that in the current climate there is considerable pressure on local resources and that you will need to take account of that and ensure that contractual commitments are applied appropriately.  However we hope you will regard such activity by your clinical staff as an investment in our Health Services and a reflection of the high standards in your organisation. The experience gained by these individuals should be of direct benefit to the unit in which they work. We would be grateful if you could bring this to the attention of the members of your Board.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact the UK, European and International Affairs team at the GMC at


Professor Terence Stephenson

Chair, General Medical Council

Sir Bruce Keogh

National Medical Director, NHS England

Professor Dame Sally C Davies

Chief Medical Officer, England             

Dr Michael McBride

Chief Medical Officer, Ireland

Dr Frank Atherton

Chief Medical Officer, Wales                 

Professor Catherine Calderwood

Chief Medical Officer, Scotland