Domain 4: Trust and professionalism
Patients must be able to trust medical professionals with their lives and health, and medical professionals must be able to trust each other.
Good medical professionals uphold high personal and professional standards of conduct. They are honest and trustworthy, act with integrity, maintain professional boundaries and do not let their personal interests affect their professional judgements or actions.
Acting with honesty and integrity
You must make sure that your conduct justifies patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in your profession.
You must always be honest about your experience, qualifications, and current role.
If a patient, colleague, or anyone else you have contact with in your professional role asks for your registered name and/or GMC reference number, you must give this information to them.
You must be honest in financial and commercial dealings with patients, employers, insurers, indemnifiers and other organisations or individuals.
Acting with honesty and integrity in research
When designing, organising or carrying out research, you must put the interests of participants first. You must act with honesty and integrity, and follow national research governance guidelines and our more detailed guidance on Good practice in research.
Maintaining professional boundaries
You must not act in a sexual way towards patients or use your professional position to pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with a patient or someone close to them. You must follow our more detailed guidance on Maintaining personal and professional boundaries.
You must not express your personal beliefs (including political, religious and moral beliefs) to patients in ways that exploit their vulnerability or could reasonably cause them distress. You must follow our more detailed guidance on Personal beliefs and medical practice.
Communicating as a medical professional
All professional communication
You must be honest and trustworthy, and maintain patient confidentiality in all your professional written, verbal and digital communications.
You must make sure any information you communicate as a medical professional is accurate, not false or misleading. This means:
- you must take reasonable steps to check the information is accurate
- you must not deliberately leave out relevant information
- you must not minimise or trivialise risks of harm
- you must not present opinion as established fact.
Giving evidence and acting as a witness
When giving evidence or acting as a witness, you must follow the guidance in paragraphs 88 to 90 and our more detailed guidance on Providing witness statements or expert evidence as part of legal proceedings, and you must make clear the limits of your knowledge and expertise.
When communicating privately, including using instant messaging services, you should bear in mind that messages or other communications in private groups may become public.
This ethical hub topic set out how our social media guidance can be applied practically. It also has a section that answers common queries about using social media as a medical professional.
Managing conflicts of interest
You must not allow any interests you have to affect, or be seen to affect the way you propose, provide or prescribe treatments, refer patients, or commission services.
If you are faced with a conflict of interest, you must be open about it with patients and employers, declare it in line with local and national arrangements, and be prepared to exclude yourself from decision making. You must follow our more detailed guidance in Identifying and managing conflicts of interest.
You must not ask for or accept – from patients, colleagues or others – any incentive payments, gifts or hospitality that may affect or be seen to affect the way you propose, provide or prescribe treatments, refer or commission services for patients. You must not offer such incentives to others.
You must, wherever possible, avoid providing medical care to yourself or anyone with whom you have a close personal relationship. You must follow our more detailed guidance on Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices.
Cooperating with legal and regulatory requirements
To maintain patient safety, you must cooperate with formal inquiries, patient safety investigations, and complaints procedures. You must provide all relevant information and be open and honest.
You must tell us without delay if, anywhere in the world:
- you have accepted a caution (or equivalent) from a prosecuting authority
- you have been charged with a criminal offence in person or by post
- you have been found guilty of a criminal offence
- you have been criticised by an official inquiry8
- another professional body has made a finding against your registration as a result of fitness to practise process.
See our guidance on Reporting criminal and regulatory proceedings for more detailed information.
By ‘official inquiry’ we mean a public or formal inquiry or a tribunal in the public domain. These are publicly funded, investigate matters in the public interest and publish their findings. See our more detailed guidance on Reporting criminal and regulatory proceedings for more information.
If you are suspended by an organisation from a healthcare role or post requiring professional registration, or have restrictions placed on your practice, you must, without delay, inform any organisations for which you carry out medical work, and any patients you see independently of these organisations.
You must make sure that you have appropriate and adequate insurance or indemnity that covers the full scope of your practice. You should keep your level of cover under regular review.