Good medical practice

Domain 3: Communication partnership and teamwork

Communicate effectively


You must listen to patients, take account of their views, and respond honestly to their questions.


You must give patients20  the information they want or need to know in a way they can understand. You should make sure that arrangements are made, wherever possible, to meet patients’ language and communication needs.21 


Patients here includes those people with the legal authority to make healthcare decisions on a patient’s behalf.


You must be considerate to those close to the patient and be sensitive and responsive in giving them information and support.


When you are on duty you must be readily accessible to patients and colleagues seeking information, advice or support.   

Working collaboratively with colleagues


You must work collaboratively with colleagues, respecting their skills and contributions.3 


You must treat colleagues fairly and with respect.


You must be aware of how your behaviour may influence others within and outside the team.


Patient safety may be affected if there is not enough medical cover. So you must take up any post you have formally accepted, and work your contractual notice period before leaving a job, unless the employer has reasonable time to make other arrangements.

Teaching, training, supporting and assessing


You should be prepared to contribute to teaching and training doctors and students.


You must make sure that all staff you manage have appropriate supervision.


You must be honest and objective when writing references, and when appraising or assessing the performance of colleagues, including locums and students. References must include all information relevant to your colleagues’ competence, performance and conduct.22 


Writing references (2012) GMC, London


You should be willing to take on a mentoring role for more junior doctors and other healthcare professionals.3 


You must support colleagues who have problems with their performance or health. But you must put patient safety first at all times.3 

Continuity and coordination of care


You must contribute to the safe transfer of patients between healthcare providers and between health and social care providers. This means you must:

  1. share all relevant information with colleagues involved in your patients’ care within and outside the team, including when you hand over care as you go off duty, and when you delegate care or refer patients to other health or social care providers8  
  2. check, where practical, that a named clinician or team has taken over responsibility when your role in providing a patient’s care has ended. This may be particularly important for patients with impaired capacity or who are vulnerable for other reasons.

Delegation and referral (2013) GMC, London


When you do not provide your patients’ care yourself, for example when you are off duty, or you delegate the care of a patient to a colleague, you must be satisfied that the person providing care has the appropriate qualifications, skills and experience to provide safe care for the patient.8 


Delegation and referral (2013) GMC, London

Establish and maintain partnerships with patients


You must be polite and considerate.


You must treat patients as individuals and respect their dignity and privacy.16 


Maintaining boundaries (2013) GMC, London


You must treat patients fairly and with respect whatever their life choices and beliefs.


You must work in partnership with patients, sharing with them the information they will need to make decisions about their care,21 including:

  1. their condition, its likely progression and the options for treatment, including associated risks and uncertainties
  2. the progress of their care, and your role and responsibilities in the team
  3. who is responsible for each aspect of patient care, and how information is shared within teams and among those who will be providing their care
  4. any other information patients need if they are asked to agree to be involved in teaching or research.12 

Consent to research (2013) GMC, London


You must treat information about patients as confidential. This includes after a patient has died.14 


You must support patients in caring for themselves to empower them to improve and maintain their health. This may, for example, include:

  1. advising patients on the effects of their life choices and lifestyle on their health and well-being
  2. supporting patients to make lifestyle changes where appropriate.

You must explain to patients if you have a conscientious objection to a particular procedure. You must tell them about their right to see another doctor and make sure they have enough information to exercise that right. In providing this information you must not imply or express disapproval of the patient’s lifestyle, choices or beliefs. If it is not practical for a patient to arrange to see another doctor, you must make sure that arrangements are made for another suitably qualified colleague to take over your role.23