Doctors warned on care of patients
Wednesday 20 May 1998
Doctors will be told that they must measure up to the standards of competence, care and conduct set out in Good Medical Practice, a new edition of which is due to be approved by the council today. In particular, that means providing care and comfort, listening to patients and explaining matters to them, as well as treating their illnesses with knowledge and skill.
The new edition says that being registered as a doctor brings rights and privileges and if problems arise "these are the standards against which you will be judged." The previous edition said merely that it was providing guidance, not a set of rules.
Sir Donald Irvine, president of the council, said there was a danger that with the onward march of science and technology the humanity of medicine was being forgotten: "For some doctors there is a pre-occupation with getting the science right. Listening to patients' concerns and feelings, offering explanations, answering questions - these are the facets we want to pay attention to."
He said developments such as the Internet would in some cases make patients more knowledgeable than their doctors. "It will put more power into the hands of patients. The question is how [the knowledge] is to be used. The fundamental point is the quality of the doctor patient relationship."
Good Medical Practice sets out doctors' duties to keep up to date, maintain patients' trust, and protect them from other doctors whose health or performance is a threat. It says when a patient suffers serious harm, the doctor should explain fully and honestly what has happened. In the case of a child, the parents should be told.
This part of the guidance follows a case in which family members were told by the courts that doctors had no legal obligation to tell them what had happened when their child died. Sir Donald said that under the new guidance those doctors would have been in breach of the professional code. "It recognises that doctors have wider professional and ethical responsibilities than the law requires them to have," he said.
First published in 1995, Sir Donald said Good Medical Practice set out what people could expect from doctors and was "the best thing the GMC has ever done". He said a "revolution" was under way with medical organisations seeking to introduce standards. "The job now is to get beyond the glossy brochure stage and make the statements stick and become embedded in practice. We are saying if there are departures from it, doctors will be held to account."
A survey of 800 doctors conducted for the GMC showed that while most agreed sanctions should be applied to doctors who abused their position or acted dishonestly, one-third disagreed that this was appropriate for doctors who failed to treat every patient politely, or to give them information in a way they understood. Sir Donald said: "The GMC seems closer to the public than the profession on that point."
The survey showed that only half the doctors had read Good Medical Practice. Professor Cyril Chantler, chairman of the council's standards committee, said ignorance would be no defence. "Whether or not one has read it, one will be judged by it."
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...