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GPs warned over accepting gifts from patients this Christmas

GPs should refuse gifts from patients this Christmas if they think that accepting them will alter their relationship with a patient, warn medical defence experts.

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) said that presents should be accepted with caution, as GPs could find themselves in an ethical dilemma when providing treatment once they are a recipient.

GMC advice published earlier this year states that a register should be kept of gifts from patients and their relatives if they total £100 or more and that GPs should consider the ‘potential damage this could cause to your patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in the profession’ when deciding whether to accept a gift.

MDDUS Medical adviser Dr Barry Parker said he had encountered cases where doctors found themselves in a difficult position after receiving gifts of substantial value from patients.

He said: ‘Ultimately, doctors should consider whether by accepting a gift, they are altering their relationship with the patient.

‘Factors that may influence the decision include the size of the gift and whether the patient is vulnerable or may be trying to influence their care. It is also worth considering how acceptance of the gift may be perceived by the public in general.

‘If doctors have any of these concerns, then they should be prepared to refuse the offer of the gift.’