The General Medical Council (GMC) has announced an updated version of 'Good medical practice', which details the principles, values and standards expected of doctors working in the UK. The document is described as 'the first substantial changes since 2013'.
The GMC carried out its biggest ever consultation process, gathering feedback from thousands of medical professionals, patients and others supporting the UK’s health services to make sure the changes were a shared agreement on what good practice looks like.
Respondents supported a renewed emphasis on promoting positive workplace cultures, where doctors are supported to address bullying, discrimination and harassment. Updates have been made in five key areas: creating respectful, fair and compassionate workplaces; promoting patient centred care; helping to tackle discrimination; championing fair and inclusive leadership; and supporting continuity of care and safe delegation.
Last year, the GMC announced the updated guidance would state that doctors ‘must not act in a sexual way towards colleagues with the effect or purpose of causing offence, embarrassment, humiliation or distress’. This added to existing guidance that doctors must not act in a sexual way towards patients or use their professional position to ‘pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship’.
New additions have also been made on what to do if doctors, including those in leadership and management positions, witness any forms of bullying, harassment or discrimination.
Responding to the new guidance coming into effect, Mr Tim Mitchell, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:
“I am particularly pleased to see specific guidance in Good medical practice on preventing bullying and sexual harassment. There is no place for these abhorrent behaviours in UK medicine and they bring shame to the profession. We need to create a work environment where every person feels welcome, safe and protected. The GMC’s new standards send a strong message to the profession that these behaviours will not be tolerated.
“Good medical practice is the foundation upon which all doctors in the UK base their practice. It provides the compass by which we navigate the ethical issues we can face in giving patients the best possible care. The last decade has seen many changes in medicine and with that an evolving medical workforce. It is important that the profession has an up to date set of standards that reflects those changes.
"We are currently reviewing our own core standards document, Good Surgical Practice, to make sure it reflects changes to the GMC’s guidelines and that it makes clear that sexual misconduct is completely unacceptable."
You can view the GMC's document here.