The new Good Medical Practice (“GMP”) framework comes into effect on 30 January 2024 and is the first changes to doctor’s practice requirements since 2013 from the General Medical Council “GMC”.

The five key pillars of change for all doctors practicing in the UK to get themselves up to speed with can be summarised as follows:

  1. Create respectful, fair and compassionate workplaces for colleagues and patients;
  2. Promote patient centred care;
  3. Tackle discrimination;
  4. Champion fair and inclusive leadership; and
  5. Support continuity of care and safe delegation

Drilling down slightly further in to the draft GMP 2024 guidance, the GMP picks up on the significant shift to digital health that has dominated the healthcare profession in recent years, with a new section on “offering remote consultations.” Interestingly, the GMP identifies “if you can’t provide safe care through the mode of consultation you’re using, you should offer an alternative, or signpost to other services.” This is suggestive that a doctor should err on the side of caution and reflect on what is being offered to a patient for an appropriate method of assessment, regardless of convenience.

The GMC have acknowledged the dominating issue of sustainability and that the profession needs to be bearing in mind its own environmental impact in a doctor’s work undertaken. For the first time, it has introduced a new section ‘managing resources effectively and sustainably’. The GMP records that “doctors should choose sustainable solutions when they are able to, provided these don’t compromise care standards.” We envisage this will also lead to internal reviews in surgeries on how to support more green and eco policies in the delivery of patient care / wider staff behaviours. Examples could include considering switching to offering dry powder inhalers, which have a lower carbon footprint and staff travel.

This section also addresses that “doctors must make good use of the resources available to them and provide the best service possible taking account of their responsibilities to patients and the wider population.” This appears to give a nod to the very relevant issue of pharmaceutical supply chain issues. These are ongoing challenges exacerbated by Brexit and the pandemic and continue to make headline news still now i.e. only this month it was reported by the Department of Health and Social Care that Carbamazepine was out of stock until mid-January 2024 as treatment for epilepsy patients.

The GMC has set out a new positive duty on every doctor “to act” and what steps they consider doctors should take if they witness behaviours, which may be considered to be bullying or harassment. The GMC is hopeful with this standard focus on behaviour it will “make everyone feel safe to speak up” and ensure an inclusive and open working environment for all.

In summary, the GMP changes neatly highlight and bring about a decade of change. The GMC have effectively focussed on bringing to the forefront active steps for a better working culture and awareness of the wider headline issues that UK society is facing in the 2020’s as a whole and its impact on the profession.

Further resources

Draft Good medical practice 2024 (gmc-uk.org)

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