GMC's 'Good medical practice' - consultation response

In July 2022 we responded to the General Medical Council's consultation on 'Good medical practice', which provides guidance on the standards of care and professional behaviour that the GMC expects from all doctors and other medical professionals. The page has a summary, with the full response available to download.

The General Medical Council ran a public consultation on a draft, updated version of this guidance. The proposed changes were based on evidence from a variety of sources. You can read more information about this on the GMC website.

As the body representing paediatricians across the UK and internationally, we have responded to the key aspects of the consultation that are our areas of focus.

The key points that we highlighted:

  • A heavy focus on adult health and care provision. We suggest that the GMC specify the full remit of patients that will be using the NHS, which includes babies, children and young people, and their families and carers. The language should be expanded to incorporate these groups. A recommendation would be in all circumstances where 'patient' is used, the line should be updated to 'patients, parents, guardians or carers', or it should be specified in a key definitions section. For paediatricians, the patient may well be a newborn baby, and as such they would be involving parents, guardians or carers in discussions around the newborn's care and treatment.
  • Safeguarding is a key element of good medical practice and needs significantly enhanced inclusion throughout the document. We suggest the GMC consider additional points and context around safeguarding throughout the document. For paediatricians this is the key component of our work with babies, children and young people, as well as parents, guardians and families. This will also be true for those working with vulnerable adults.
  • Positive focus on EDI: We welcome the additional sections on equality, diversity and inclusion. Paediatricians continue to raise concerns around EDI in the workplace, and we welcome the framing here.
  • Use of language: We note the change to 'I will' and first-person language, and the focus on behaviours rather than duties is uncontentious. We note Domain 4 has some changes back to 'they' rather than 'I'. We have also noted that there is variation in other aspects of the language where some of the points are in principle, and potentially could use further clarification where other elements are more clearly defined.
  • Section 41 is the only section with mention of children and young people and safeguarding. We appreciate those drafting the document may have felt that a specific section might be useful; however, we are concerned that safeguarding these vulnerable groups need to be included throughout the whole text. Safeguarding is an important golden thread of good medical practice and should be treated as such.
  • Global health, climate change and sustainable practice: We recognise that the GMC has sought to include wording to strengthen links between the Good medical practice document and climate change. However, the text does not mention climate change. The GMC should include a further emphasis on clinicians educating themselves and working sustainably and responsibly to support the environment, given their role as leaders. We have contributed to the development of a detailed response to this consultation submitted by the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, which makes suggestions on the practicalities of doing this in more detail, and suggest the GMC take these into consideration.

We respond to a wide range of consultations to ensure that the College’s position, and ultimately children’s health, is represented. Members can get involved in current consultations by contacting the Health Policy team on health.policy@rcpch.ac.uk.