About Good medical practice
What is Good medical practice?
Good medical practice sets out the principles, values, and standards of care and professional behaviour expected of all medical professionals registered with us. It is an ethical framework, which supports medical professionals to deliver safe care to a good standard, in the interests of patients.
We work closely with medical professionals, patients and others to develop Good medical practice, so it is a shared agreement of what the professional standards should be.
We use the term ‘medical professionals’ to describe all our registrants1 who we address directly (as ‘you’) throughout this guidance.
Good medical practice is divided into four domains to make it easier to navigate. Each domain is equally important in describing what makes a good medical professional.
At the time of publication we regulate doctors. We are preparing to regulate Physician Associates and Anaesthesia Associates in the future, at which point this guidance will also apply to them.
How to use Good medical practice
It’s your responsibility to be familiar with Good medical practice and the professional standards it contains, wherever you practise, whatever your field of medicine or practice setting.
But it isn’t a set of rules. You must use your professional judgement to apply the standards in Good medical practice to your day to day practice. This means working out which of the professional standards are relevant to the specific circumstances you are facing, and using your knowledge, skills and experience to follow them in that context.
If you do this, act in good faith and in the interests of patients, you’ll be able to explain and justify your decisions and actions.
We use the terms ‘you must’ and ‘you should’ in the following ways.
- ‘You must’ is used for a legal or ethical duty you’re expected to meet (or be able to justify why you didn’t).
- 'You should’ is used for duties or principles that either:
- may not apply to you or to the situation you’re currently in, or
- you may not be able to comply with because of factors outside your control.
What are the professional standards?
Good medical practice is our core guidance on professional standards. It’s supported by a range of more detailed guidance which expands on some of the standards set out in Good medical practice.
When we use the term ‘professional standards’ we mean Good medical practice and the more detailed guidance.
How the professional standards relate to revalidation
Revalidation supports you to develop your practice, drives improvements in clinical governance, and gives your patients confidence that you're up to date.
To maintain your licence to practise, you must continuously engage with local clinical governance systems, including annual appraisal. This will demonstrate that you’re working in line with the principles, values and standards of care, and behaviour set out in the professional standards.
How the professional standards relate to our fitness to practise process
The professional standards describe good practice, and not every departure from them will be considered serious.
When a concern is raised with us about a medical professional, we must assess if that medical professional poses any current and ongoing risk to one or more of the three parts of public protection:
- protecting, promoting and maintaining the health, safety and wellbeing of the public
- promoting and maintaining public confidence in the medical professions, and
- promoting and maintaining proper professional standards and conduct for members of those professions.
We do this by considering the following.
- How serious the concern is. This includes looking at the extent of the medical professional’s departure from the professional standards and/or the impact of a health condition on their behaviour or performance. It also includes other factors that may impact on seriousness, such as premeditated or persistent behaviour, abuse of power, and whether the behaviour or poor performance the concern relates to is an isolated incident or has been repeated.
- Any relevant context that may impact on risk, for example systems factors and interpersonal factors in the medical professional’s working environment or their role and level of experience.
- How the medical professional responded to the concern, including evidence of insight and remediation.
Once we’ve assessed the risk, we’ll need to consider if regulatory action may be required in response to the concern. You can read more about our processes and the types of action we might need to take on our fitness to practise webpages.