GMC research shows that it is rare for practising doctors to seek out formal ethical guidance, and when they do, the GMC is often not their first port of call. Many doctors and medical students prefer to use other sources of advice, initially looking to their colleagues or turning to other sources such as their medical defence unions. 

The research further found that doctors found its guidance difficult to interpret or didn’t see the need to access it when ethical issues arise.

In relation to other stakeholders however, responsible officers, employers, educators and organisations providing advice and information to doctors, refer to Good medical practice quite frequently in their roles. They use it as a basis for the advice and teaching that they prepare for doctors and medical students.

The research also found that “most” doctors and medical students feel confident in their knowledge of the principles in Good medical practice however awareness of the explanatory guidance is relatively low.

The GMC commissioned the research as part of its review of the Good medical practice. It said:

“As part of the review, we wanted to better understand the experiences of those who use our guidance, including how they access it and how they apply it in their work.

“The findings will inform decision making throughout this review so that we can make sure our future guidance is accessible and meets the needs of all those who use it.”

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