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Letter: GMC has not banned doctors from treating family

From Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council (GMC)

Dr Shaba Nabi’s article, ‘GMC rules shackle GPs who want to care for their kids’, gives your readers the mistaken impression that GMC guidance bans doctors from treating family members in all circumstances.

Objectivity is essential to good clinical care – that is why our guidance does advise that, wherever possible, doctors should avoid giving medical treatment to themselves or anyone with whom they have a close personal relationship. That does not mean abandoning common sense or worse putting patient safety at risk. Of course doctors must exercise their professional judgement – and in an emergency it would obviously be wrong not to treat, if there were no alternative.

What we do expect of doctors is that they apply the principles within ‘Good Medical Practice’ and our explanatory guidance on prescribing in the context in which they find themselves – we also expect them to document clearly what action they have taken, not least for the benefit of the patient’s continuity of care.