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Changes to the GMC's Good Medical Practice - what's new?

on Wednesday, 21 February 2024.

The GMC's Good Medical Practice was updated for the first time in over ten years, on 30 January 2024

The updated Good Medical Practice applies to all doctors in the UK, but uses the term 'medical professionals' rather than 'doctors' as it will also apply to physician associates and anaesthesia associates, once they are regulated by the GMC.

What are the key changes?

Whilst the standards remain split into four sections or 'domains', they have been renamed and significantly restructured to make the new guidance easier to navigate, as follows:

  • Knowledge, skills and development
  • Patients, partnership and communication
  • Colleagues, culture and safety
  • Trust and professionalism

The changes in the updated Good Medical Practice can be grouped under five key themes:

  • Creating respectful, fair and compassionate workplaces
  • Promoting patient centred care
  • Helping to tackle discrimination
  • Championing fair and inclusive leadership
  • Supporting continuity of care and safe delegation

The GMC has also published a helpful summary of the changes under each heading, highlighting the new paragraphs from the updated Good Medical Practice under each of the above themes.

Clearer definitions of 'must' and 'should'

The GMC has also updated the definitions of 'must' and 'should', as follows:

  • ‘You must’ is used for a legal or ethical duty you’re expected to meet (or be able to justify why you didn’t)
  • 'You should’ is used for duties or principles that either may not apply to you or to the situation you’re currently in, or you may not be able to comply with because of factors outside your control

Whilst these are familiar terms from the previous 2013 guidelines, these updated definitions provide greater clarity and distinction between the two terms.

Fitness to practise procedures

This updated guidance also includes a detailed explanation on how the standards relate to fitness to practise procedures.

It is essential that GMC regulated medical professionals familiarise themselves with the updated Good Medical Practice, as a failure to follow the new standards could lead to a referral to the GMC and a fitness to practise investigation.

If you need legal advice in relation to fitness to practise matters, please do not hesitate to contact Andrew Andrews on 07880 336 051 in our Healthcare team.  Alternatively, complete the form below.

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