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GMC redrafts ‘duty’ to get patients back to work



The GMC has watered down plans to hand doctors’ a duty to get patients back to work, a draft of the professions’ core ethical guidance published today shows.

The GMC’s draft of Good Medical Practice, put out to public consultation today, says doctors ‘may’ have to ‘encourage patients to stay in or return to employment or other purposeful activity.’

The proposal replaces original draft plans, revealed by Pulse earlier this month, which would have handed doctors’ an explicit ‘duty’ to get patients with long-term conditions into work, in a draft of Good Medical Practice presented to the GMC board last month.

At the time the GMC confirmed it was redrafting the original draft of Good Medical Practice ahead of today’s consultation launch, amid concerns from GPs over ‘pressure from Government’ to enlist doctors in the coalition’s benefit crackdown.

The draft version of Good Medical Practice also includes new guidance for GPs on their use of social networking, with a warning that GPs must treat colleagues with respect online and that information posted on social networking sites ‘may become more widely available.’ The GMC said it will launch specialist guidance on social networking next year. 

And GMC leaders said the new guidance also calls on doctors to flag up and act where they witness failing standards of basic care and abuse to children or vulnerable patients, in a bid to prevent repeats of scandals like the Mid Staffs case.

Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the GMC said:‘This guidance makes clear that a doctor’s responsibilities do not begin and end with providing clinical treatment.’

‘They have a vital role to play to improve basic standards of care. When this goes wrong, as it did at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and elsewhere, patients can face serious harm.’