Thursday, January 26, 2012
"at all times..."
The Passage of Time by TonyVC
The GMC, the body which regulates doctors in the UK, is consulting on the next version of Good Medical Practice. The consultation ends on Friday, 10th February, 2012 and you can learn more here. Since 2005 Good Medical Practice has been the core guidance for doctors on how they should act professionally. In a previous post written almost exactly 2 years ago I discussed the fact that the guidance states "You must make sure that your conduct at all times justifies your patients' trust in you and the public's trust in the profession." but does not make clear what kind of conduct might be expected to reduce confidence in a doctor or doctors as a whole. It is perhaps deliberately vague.
The last version of Good Medical Practice was issued in 2006. Times have changed since 2006 and in this consultation the GMC have started using social media to spread the word about the consultation and get some informal feedback. They have started a Facebook page and a twitter account, @gooddoctoruk.
There has been a lot of discussion of the consultation on Twitter, primarily around how much doctor's lives outside their hours working as a doctor should be regulated. Do we have to be professional "at all times"?
To get the debate going Shree Datta, co-chair of the British Medical Association's Junior Doctor's Committee wrote a piece on her thoughts around the current guidance on conduct outside of work. She thinks that in the current guidance there is "little reassuring detail" about what might be considered appropriate or inappropriate. She says: "The simple fact is that people make mistakes and it is unrealistic to expect doctors alone to remain flawless at all times in every aspect of life. Yet the current guidance suggests that that is what is expected of doctors and arguably does not ringfence our privacy or allow for our personal autonomy."
The GMC then asked the question "Do you think the GMC should regulate doctors lives outside medicine?" This was the response from 1167 people. 94% said No.