Good medical practice

Domain 1: Knowledge,  skills and development


Medical practice is a lifelong journey. Keeping pace with rapidly changing social, legal and technological developments means learning new skills while maintaining others. Sharing knowledge – gained through research and innovation, as well as experience – is fundamental to being a medical professional.

Good medical professionals are competent, keep their knowledge and skills up to date and provide a good standard of practice and care. They strive to develop and improve their professional performance. They reflect regularly on their standards of practice and use feedback and evidence to develop personal and professional insight.

Being competent


You must be competent in all aspects of your work including, where applicable, formal leadership or management roles, research and teaching.


You must recognise and work within the limits of your competence.


You must keep up to date with guidelines and developments that affect your work.


You must follow the law, our guidance on professional standards, and other regulations relevant to your work.


You must have the necessary knowledge of the English language to provide a good standard of practice and care in the UK.

Providing good clinical care


You must provide a good standard of practice and care. If you assess, diagnose, or treat patients, you must work in partnership with them to assess their needs and priorities. The investigation or treatment you propose, provide or arrange must be based on this assessment, and on your clinical judgement about the likely effectiveness of the treatment options.


In providing clinical care you must:

  1. adequately assess a patient’s condition(s), taking account of their history, including
    1. symptoms 
    2. relevant psychological, spiritual, social, economic, and cultural factors 
    3. the patient’s views, needs, and values
  1. carry out a physical examination where necessary
  2. promptly provide (or arrange) suitable advice, investigation or treatment where necessary
  3. propose, provide or prescribe drugs or treatment (including repeat prescriptions) only when you have adequate knowledge of the patient’s health and are satisfied that the drugs or treatment will meet their needs
  4. propose, provide or prescribe effective treatment based on the best available evidence 
  5. follow our more detailed guidance on professional standards, Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices, if you prescribe 
  6. consult colleagues or seek advice from your supervising clinician, where appropriate
  7. refer a patient to another suitably qualified practitioner when this serves their needs.

If relevant to your area of practice, you must follow our Guidance for doctors who offer cosmetic interventions.

Offering remote consultations


You must provide safe and effective clinical care whether face to face, or through remote consultations via telephone, video link, or other online services. If you can’t provide safe care through the mode of consultation you’re using, you should offer an alternative if available, or signpost to other services.

Advice on remote consultations

This ethical hub topic explores how to decide whether a remote consultation is appropriate and what to do if you have patient safety concerns.

Ethical theme

Considering research opportunities


Research is vital in improving our understanding of health conditions, and increasing the availability of options for effective prevention, treatment, and care. You should consider opportunities to conduct or participate in research that may benefit current and/or future patients, and help to improve the health of the population. You should tell patients if you’re aware of opportunities for them to participate in appropriate research. 

Maintaining developing and improving your performance


You must keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date.


When you join an organisation, or when your role changes significantly throughout your career, you should be willing to find and take part in structured support opportunities offered by your employer or contracting body, such as mentoring or coaching schemes.


You must take steps to monitor, maintain, develop, and improve your performance and the quality of your work, including taking part in systems of quality assurance and quality improvement to promote patient safety across the whole scope of your practice. 

This includes:

  1. contributing to discussions and decisions about improving the quality of services and outcomes
  2. taking part in regular reviews and audits of your work, and your team’s work, and responding constructively to the outcomes, taking steps to address problems, and carrying out further training where necessary
  3. regularly taking part in training and/or continuing professional development
  4. regularly reflecting on your standards of practice and the care you provide, including
    1. reflecting on any constructive feedback available to you
    2. considering how your life experience, culture and beliefs influence your interactions with others and may impact on the decisions you make and the care you provide.

Managing resources effectively and sustainably


You must make good use of the resources available to you, and provide the best service possible, taking account of your responsibilities to patients and the wider population.


You should choose sustainable solutions when you’re able to, provided these don’t compromise care standards. You should consider supporting initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare.