International day of People with disabilities – 3 December
World Aids day – 1 December
Welcome to the UKFPO December Bulletin. With the launch of the GMC’s Good Medical Practice 2024 in the New Year, I thought it would be appropriate to hand the editorial of this month’s bulletin over to Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen, Chair of Council at the GMC.
In the meantime, I will take this opportunity to wish you all peace and happiness. For many, this is a time we hope to spend with family and friends but given that most of us will need to spend some of it working I know that will not be possible for everyone. It is thus a time when we need to demonstrate our compassion for each other too.
You’ll hear more from me in January.
Tony Choules, Operational Advisor to the UKFP
Introducing Good medical practice 2024
In August this year the GMC introduced an updated version of Good medical practice. This is a guide for you on the professional standards and behaviours that are expected of you as a doctor practising in the UK. Patients must be able to trust medical practitioners with their lives and their health. This is why it is so important that doctors are held to high professional standards.
The four sections of Good medical practice, known as the four domains, cover:
- Knowledge, skills and development – what we need to know and be able to do as doctors
- Patients, partnership and communication – how we work with patients and the public
- Colleagues, culture and safety – how we work and behave with colleagues to ensure safe patient care
- Trust and professionalism – what we do to maintain trust in us as individuals and as a profession.
- Each of these domains reflects key attributes of professional behaviour.
The first version of Good medical practice was published in 1995 and we have updated it periodically since then to reflect societal change. Much has changed over the last ten years since the last update – patient expectations have changed, social media use has become the norm and our workforce has become much more diverse. At the same time, while the scope of what we can achieve in medicine has expanded, healthcare inequalities have become even more ingrained. The pandemic accelerated new technologies and new ways of interacting with patients. In the context of these changes, and at the request of doctors, we felt it was necessary to look closely at the detail of Good medical practice and ensure it reflects reasonable expectations for the profession.
To help us establish the changes needed we undertook our biggest ever consultation, taking in the views of thousands of medical professionals and patients.
Most of the high-level principles remain the same, of course. The care of patients will always be our first concern and, in order to help achieve this, there is now an increased focus on the professional behaviours that doctors should display at work to help create fair, respectful and inclusive workplace environments. We have introduced new sections of Good medical practice that outline how we treat those around us with kindness, courtesy and respect – not just because it’s considerate behaviour but because there is evidence that it sets the conditions for the delivery of good patient care.
We have included duties focused on understanding the impact of your behaviours on others at work, showing respect for difference and role modelling good behaviours. We also ask you to be aware of your own potential biases, and to consider how these may impact on your interactions with others. These new duties are designed to help create a more inclusive workplace, where everybody feels a sense of belonging, and has fair access to opportunities.
Medical workplaces are unique – doctors hold positions of immense trust and responsibility, and it’s vital that you feel able to speak up if you see things that could be improved, or if you have concerns about patient care. But of course, discussions about where improvements should be made should happen constructively, with respect, empathy and compassion.
One of the much talked about changes is our clear guidance on sexual misconduct in the workplace. We have set out, for the first time, that doctors must not act in a sexual way towards colleagues, and provided guidance on what this means.
We have set out the responsibilities of doctors with formal leadership or management positions to act promptly and appropriately in response to instances of discrimination and harassment, sex-based or otherwise. Of course, we want all doctors to feel able to speak up about these behaviours, whether they are a victim or a bystander, but naturally this can be difficult. Our ethical hub has information for anyone who would like to seek support here. I do hope that the clarity we are providing in Good medical practice will ultimately help to tackle these deep-rooted problems and create environments where speaking out is easier.
While the main thrust of the changes focuses on the section on professional behaviours in the workplace, we have made other important changes too. For example, we have included a new duty about managing multiple medications. We have also included duties designed to protect you, highlighting the importance of being clear if a delegated task sits outside your competency, and looking after your own wellbeing. There is also an updated section that covers how we need to manage resources effectively and sustainably. This sets out that medical professionals should choose sustainable solutions when we are able to, provided these don’t compromise care standards. It goes on to say that we should consider supporting initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare.
If you haven’t already, I would urge you to read the updated Good medical practice as soon as you can. This new version comes into effect on 30 January 2024. It’s important to understand that Good medical practice isn’t a rule book – it is guidance – and your ability to follow it will sometimes depend on your circumstances. We’re aware there are great pressures in the system at the moment, but we know many doctors find it particularly helpful in difficult times to turn to Good medical practice for a reminder of what they should be aiming to achieve in their practice every day, and what they should be expecting from those around them.
Hopefully you will feel positive and confident about the changes we’ve made to Good medical practice. It’s exciting that we have reached a stage where there is such strong consensus amongst doctors, other medical professionals and patients about the knowledge, skills and behaviours we need, and are expected to demonstrate, to be good doctors. Fairness, respect and compassion all matter greatly, and sit at the heart of our professional standards. We can look forward to a new era of improved workplace experiences for all that will better equip doctors to deliver the highest standards of care to patients.
Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen, Chair of Council at the GMC
Sustainability in Healthcare webinar – 12 December 2023, 14:00 Run by UKFPO for all UK foundation doctors.
National TIPS QI 2023 – 18 December 2023, 19:00 Run by a teaching collaborative based in the North West of England. A virtual event for foundation doctors about quality improvement methodology and how this can empower you to have a voice and make work-based improvements to patient safety, aiming to equip you with some concepts and tools to help plan and execute a QI project.
Careers planning for foundation doctors – 6 February 2024, 14:00 Run by UKFPO for all UK foundation doctors. Further details will shortly be available on our Events page.
Medical Education Leaders UK Foundation Programme Sharing Event – 25 March 2024
Royal College of Physicians- Evening Medical Updates (EMU) Autumn 2023 – Summer 2024 These updates are developed by Internal Medicine Training (IMT) trainees and the RCP Members Committee with a focus on the IMT curriculum, including topics such as Cardiology, Oncology, Renal Medicine and more. Open to all, for more information, see the EMU flyer. For all enquiries, contact Lauren Slater email@example.com
If you are interested in any of our webinars but were unable to attend, you can find the webinar recordings on our website.
FY2 Taster Days Project
All FY2 doctors, aside from those on specialised foundation programmes (SFPs), with interest in mental health research are encouraged to apply.
Applications are open now until Friday 15 December 2023, 17:00 UK time. Apply using the link below:
E-learning for Health Update
Check the link to view the elfh December update.