This weekend I did my good turn for humanity by responding to the General Medical Council Consultation on Good Medical Practice. This draft guidance encourages debate about what good medical practice should look like in the future. This post isn’t likely to be of interest to many of you, but if you are interested (and can make your way through the appalling formatting – apologies) then please feel free to see my responses that I submitted – and better still discuss/debate/disagree with me – I do love a good online debate! Thanks.
Section 1: Continuity of Care
Q: How important is continuity of care? (Options: Very — quite — fairly — slightly — not)
A: The single most influencing factor in my experience of the NHS has been continuity of care – I reference this as influencing because it has had significant positive and negative impact. When continuity of care is well established, professionals talk to (and respect) each other, work well in collaboration and are able to easily pass information between those involved with providing care – this makes for a top notch customer/patient experience.
Q: Do you agree that doctors should take action whenever they see poor care?
A: I think all staff, and patients, should take responsibility for taking action when they notice poor care.
Section 2: advising patients on their lifestyle
Q: Do you agree doctors should give patients advice about their lifestyle choices?
A: If we expect doctors to treat patients holistically, and if as a patient I complain when a doctor does not consider me as an individual, then I’d fully expect a doctor to advise me on my lifestyle choices.
Q: Would you be happy for your doctor to advise you in this way?
Section 3: Supporting and encouraging research
Q: Should doctors encourage patients to take part in a research study that is relevant to their condition?
A: I think doctors should provide information, inform patients of the benefits or risks of taking part, and support patients to make their own decision.
Section 4: Doctors’ personal beliefs
Q: Doctors must tell patients of their right to see another doctor if they object to providing treatment themselves. Do you think that’s fair?
Section 5: Openness
Q: Doctors must be open and honest with patients if things go wrong. Doctors have a duty to: 1) put things right if they can 2) offer an apology and 3) explain what has happened and its effects on the patient’s health. We say doctors must do this when patients have suffered harm or distress. Should doctors always follow this guidance when something goes wrong?
A: Doctors invariably know more than their patients, they usually hold the power (and responsibility) in the doctor-patient relationship and therefore it would seem essential that they follow this guidance. I would also expect that patients would follow it to and would be comfortable with a doctor-patient agreement that both signed up to.
Section 6: Doctors treating themselves and those close to them
Q: Do you agree that doctors should, wherever possible, avoid treating themselves?
Q: Do you agree that doctors should, wherever possible, avoid treating their close family members or others close to them?
Q: Do you agree that doctors should be registered with a GP who is not a member of their family?
Section 7: Vulnerable Adults
Q: Do you think that doctors should tell the police or social services, even if the patient doesn’t want them to?
Section 8: Maintaining trust
Q: Patients must be able to trust their doctors. So we think that doctors should not do things that could undermine a patient’s trust in them as a doctor, or society’s trust in the medical profession, even in their lives outside their medical practice.
A: I completely agree, however I think this is quite a value laden judgement. I suspect I have a very different view to my parents, for example, about what would undermine my trust, and about what I consider to be professionalism.
Section 9: General
Q: Anything else you want to say….
A: I’m sure that it would be considered implicit in the other sections but as a patient, not a professional, I’d like to see something explicit about communication and an acknowledgement of the patient’s role within the doctor-patient relationship.
So what do you think?