A Closer Look at the 2024 “Good Medical Practice” Update

As of 30th January 2024, the General Medical Council’s (GMC) cornerstone guide, “Good Medical Practice,” underwent a significant reshaping. This update reflects the shifting sands of healthcare, sculpted by legal, regulatory, and cultural changes over the past decade. Let’s delve deeper into the key modifications and their implications for doctors, venturing beyond headlines to truly grasp the impact on daily practice.

Reshuffled Domains and Lifelong Learning:

While the four core pillars – knowledge, skills, communication, and trust – remain steadfast, their titles and content have been adjusted to reflect evolving priorities. Notably, “Knowledge, skills and performance” has evolved into “Knowledge, skills and development,” highlighting the vital role of continuous learning and adaptation throughout a doctor’s career. This aligns with the dynamic nature of medical science and the need to stay ahead of the curve.

Patient-Centred Care and Informed Consent:

The updated standards champion patient-centred care. The domain “Patients, partnership, and communication” replaces the previous “Safety and quality,” showcasing the shift towards shared decision-making and informed consent. Doctors are now expected to:

  • Clearly explain treatment options and risks: Move beyond technical jargon and ensure patients grasp the implications of different choices.
  • Respect patients’ autonomy: Encourage active participation in healthcare decisions and uphold their right to refuse or withdraw consent.
  • Navigate the complexities of consent with individuals with impaired mental capacity: Employ appropriate safeguards and seek additional guidance when necessary.

Fostering a Safe and Supportive Work Environment:

The 2024 update ventures beyond the consulting room, acknowledging the doctor’s role in shaping a positive work environment. “Colleagues, culture, and safety” emphasises the need for doctors to actively contribute to a culture free from discrimination, bullying, and abuse. This includes:

  • Promoting respectful and inclusive interactions with colleagues: Foster a spirit of teamwork and collaboration, upholding professional boundaries.
  • Championing a safety culture: Report unsafe practices and participate in initiatives to improve workplace safety.
  • Addressing discrimination and bullying: Speak up against inappropriate behaviour and support colleagues who experience it.

Navigating the Digital Age and Professionalism:

The updated standards acknowledge the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. Doctors are reminded of potential privacy pitfalls associated with social media and online interactions, and advised to maintain utmost professionalism in these spaces. Additionally, the update clarifies insurance complexities, highlighting the need for comprehensive coverage and regular reviews.

Shift in Fitness to Practise Evaluations:

The GMC’s “fitness to practice” evaluations are expected to adapt to reflect the new standards. Culture, leadership, and development will likely receive increased scrutiny alongside traditional concerns. Doctors may find seeking legal guidance helpful in navigating these new complexities.

The Future of Fitness to Practise:

Looking beyond the immediate changes, the revised “Good Medical Practice” promises to significantly impact fitness to practise case trends. The increased focus on culture, development, and professional conduct in digital spaces opens avenues for potential investigations in these areas. This necessitates a proactive approach from doctors, embracing lifelong learning, fostering positive work environments, and maintaining utmost professionalism in all interactions, be they physical or digital. Navigating this changing landscape requires both awareness and adaptation, ultimately strengthening the doctor-patient relationship and fostering a more ethical and supportive healthcare ecosystem.

The 2024 “Good Medical Practice” update is not merely a document; it’s a signpost towards a changing healthcare landscape. Doctors are encouraged to embrace this evolution, engage in open dialogue, and seek support if needed. By adapting to these new standards, doctors can ensure they continue to deliver high-quality, ethical care in a future-proof manner. The key lies in continuous learning, patient-centred care, fostering a positive work environment, and maintaining professional conduct in all settings. The journey towards a more ethical and supportive healthcare ecosystem begins with navigating this new terrain, together.

If you’re a healthcare professional facing a fitness to practise investigation, Richardson Lissack can help. We have extensive experience guiding practitioners through this complex process. Contact us today for a confidential discussion.



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