More detailed guidance

To help doctors apply Good medical practice 2024, we’ve refreshed the following pieces of guidance.

These don’t establish new or different standards to those in Good medical practice, they explain more about specific areas which doctors often have questions about or where it’s useful to provide extra detail.

They came into effect on 30 January 2024.

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg / Read this page in Welsh



Delegation and referral

We’ve updated this piece of guidance to:

  • emphasise the importance of giving instructions, checking understanding and encouraging colleagues to ask questions and for support, when delegating tasks or responsibilities
  • clarify the steps to take if you have a task or responsibility delegated to you. This includes asking questions or asking for help if you’re not clear on what you’re being asked to do
  • highlight that patient safety must be prioritised over other considerations, such as training opportunities or performance assessments
  • explain more about what each person is accountable for when delegating or referring care.
Delegation and referral


Ending your professional relationship with a patient

We’ve updated this piece of guidance to:

  • emphasise the importance of attempting to restore relationships, where circumstances allow, before they are ended
  • clarify that there may be circumstances when it’s necessary to end a relationship without warning. For example, if a patient has been violent or behaved in a way that has caused other people to fear for their safety
  • highlight the need to seek advice from a safeguarding lead if you’re concerned that ending a professional relationship could leave a patient, or someone close to them, at risk of significant harm.
Ending your professional relationship with a patient


Identifying and managing conflicts of interest

We’ve updated this piece of guidance to:

  • clearly define what conflicts of interest are
  • highlight that conflicts of interest can arise from personal or professional interests that are not always financial. These could include training opportunities, or enhancements to professional reputation
  • clarify how to respond to unsolicited gifts.
Identifying and managing conflicts of interest


Intimate examinations and chaperones

We’ve updated this piece of guidance to:

  • highlight the importance of patients feeling as safe and as in control as possible. This includes making sure patients know they can ask questions or request for the examination to stop at any time
  • explain more about the settings intimate examinations might take place in, including via online and remote consultations
  • recognise that chaperones are not always available and explain what the options are if that is the case.
Intimate examinations and chaperones


Maintaining personal and professional boundaries

As the themes and issues are strongly related, we’ve combined Maintaining a professional boundary between you and your patient with the guidance on Sexual behaviour and your duty to report a colleague. This means Sexual behaviour and your duty to report a colleague won’t be a standalone guidance document from 30 January 2024.

We’ve updated this guidance to:

  • reflect the changes to Good medical practice 2024 regarding sexual behaviour between colleagues
  • highlight examples of inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • emphasise the responsibilities of doctors with formal leadership or management roles, in relation to reporting and responding to inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • explain more about inappropriate patient behaviour and action to take.
Maintaining personal and professional boundaries


Providing witness statements or expert evidence as part of legal proceedings

We’ve updated this guidance to:

  • emphasise the value of witness evidence and expert medical opinion to the justice system and other legal proceedings
  • explain the types of legal proceedings you might get involved in, and the different types of evidence you might be asked to give
  • highlight 10 universal principles of good practice, when acting as a witness in legal proceedings. These draw on Good medical practice 2024 and relevant guidance from professional bodies, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Expert Witness Institute, NHS Resolution, and other authoritative bodies across the UK.
Providing witness statements or expert evidence as part of legal proceedings


Using social media as a medical professional

We’ve updated this guidance to:

  • highlight the importance of upholding professional standards when using social media. Given that patients and the public are likely to take what is said about health and healthcare on trust, they may adapt their attitudes or behaviour as a result
  • recognise your rights and freedoms when using social media, while balancing this with other people’s rights and interests
  • clarify that you should usually say who you are when commenting on health or healthcare issues. The updated wording recognises that there may be legitimate reasons why individuals may not want to name themselves in certain situations. But this needs to be balanced with the need to transparency and trust in medical professionals more widely.
Using social media as a medical professional