UK health regulators have moved to reassure NHS professionals that they will take the 'challenging circumstances' into account when investigating coronavirus-related complaints.

In a joint statement released today, the General Pharmaceutical Council, Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, and 9 other health regulators expressed that they understand that an outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the UK could see health professionals forced to make changes to their practise.

The regulators' statement said: 'We recognise that in highly challenging circumstances, professionals may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for patients and people using health and social care services.'

The regulators said their standards 'are designed to be flexible and to provide a framework for decision-making in a wide range of situations', reminding health professionals to stick with 'key principles' of keeping people safe; practise in line with best available evidence; work within limits of their competence; and have appropriate indemnity arrangements.

The statement added: 'We recognise that the individuals on our registers may feel anxious about how context is taken into account when concerns are raised about their decisions and actions in very challenging circumstances.

'Where a concern is raised about a registered professional, it will always be considered on the specific facts of the case, taking into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working. We would also take account of any relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time.'

The Government's action plan for tackling a coronavirus outbreak, released today, reiterated plans to bring back retired doctors to deal with a coronavirus outbreak.

The plans, which could see 'emergency registration' of unlicensed doctors, have prompted questions regarding revalidation.

The Government's action plan is preparing for a worst-case scenario where up to a fifth of the population may be off work due to a coronavirus outbreak.

At the latest count, 51 people had today tested positive for the virus in the UK.