Good Medical Practice

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The duties of a doctor registered with the GMC

Patients must be able to trust doctors with their lives and health.  To justify that trust you must show respect for human life and make sure your practice meets the standards expected of you in four domains.

Knowledge, skills and performance
  • Make the care of your patient your first concern.
  • Provide a good standard of practice and care.
  • Keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date.
  • Recognise and work within the limits of your competence. 
Safety and quality
  • Take prompt action if you think that patient safety, dignity or comfort is being compromised.
  • Protect and promote the health of patients and the public.
Communication, partnership and teamwork
  • Treat patients as individuals and respect their dignity.
  • Treat patients politely and considerately. 
  • Respect patients' right to confidentiality.
  • Work in partnership with patients.
  • Listen to, and respond to, their concerns and preferences.
  • Give patients the information they want or need in a way they can understand. 
  • Respect patients' right to reach decisions with you about their treatment and care. 
  • Support patients in caring for themselves to improve and maintain their health.
  • Work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients' interests.
Maintaining trust
  • Be honest and open and act with integrity.
  • Never discriminate unfairly against patients or colleagues.
  • Never abuse your patients' trust in you or the public's trust in the profession.
You are personally accountable for your professional practice and must always be prepared to justify your decisions and actions.

Professionalism in action

1. Patients need good doctors. Good doctors make the care of their patients their first concern: they are competent, keep their knowledge and skills up to date, establish and maintain good relationships with patients and colleagues,1 are honest and trustworthy, and act with integrity and within the law.

2. Good doctors work in partnership with patients and respect their rights to privacy and dignity. They treat each patient as an individual. They do their best to make sure all patients receive good care and treatment that will support them to live as well as possible, whatever their illness or disability.

3. Good medical practice describes what is expected of all doctors registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). It is your responsibility to be familiar with Good medical practice and the explanatory guidance2 which supports it, and to follow the guidance they contain.

4. You must use your judgement in applying the principles to the various situations you will face as a doctor, whether or not you hold a licence to practise, whatever field of medicine you work in, and whether or not you routinely see patients. You must be prepared to explain and justify your decisions and actions.

5. In Good medical practice, we use the terms ‘you must’ and ‘you should’ in the following ways.‘You must’ is used for an overriding duty or principle.‘You should’ is used when we are providing an explanation of how you will meet the overriding duty.‘You should’ is also used where the duty or principle will not apply in all situations or circumstances, or where there are factors outside your control that affect whether or how you can follow the guidance.

6. To maintain your licence to practise, you must demonstrate, through the revalidation process, that you work in line with the principles and values set out in this guidance. Serious or persistent failure to follow this guidance will put your registration at risk. 


Domain 1: Knowledge, skills and performance
Domain 2: Safety and quality
Domain 3: Communication, partnership and teamwork
Domain 4: Maintaining trust