The GMC was given legal powers by Parliament and its jurisdiction embraces all
of medicine including both NHS and private practice.
The GMC states the duties of a doctor in order to protect the necessary trust which must exist between doctor and patient.
In particular the GMC states that doctors must
Make the care of the patient their first concern.
Treat every patient politely and considerately.
Respect the patient's dignity and privacy.
Listen to patients and respect their views.
Give patients information in a way they can understand.
Respect the right of patients to be involved in decisions about their care.
Keep their professional knowledge and skills up to date.
Recognise the limits of their professional competence.
Be honest and trustworthy.
Respect and protect confidential information.
Ensure that personal beliefs do not prejudice patient care.
Act quickly to protect patients who may be at risk from colleagues.
Avoid abusing their position as doctors.
Work with colleagues in the best interests of the patient.
Doctors must never discriminate unfairly against patients or colleagues and they must be prepared to justify to them any actions they might take.
The booklet "Good Medical Practice" issued by the GMC details the responsibilities but there is a worrying section on page 7, paragraph 19, which states
"Subject to your right not to provide evidence which may lead to criminal proceedings being taken against you, you must co-operate fully with any formal inquiry into the treatment of a patient. You should not withhold relevant information...."
The GMC, despite repeated requests, have been unable to confirm or to deny that this might give doctors the right to withhold evidence supporting a claim that harm was done to a patient or to withhold certain parts of the patient's own medical records in order to escape criminal charges.
Also of relevance to the "investigations" into organophosphorus poisoning and Gulf War Syndrome is the section on page 8 which states that doctors should not abuse their patient's trust, that they should not "give patients, or recommend to them, an investigation or treatment which you know is not in their best interests" or "deliberately withhold appropriate investigation, treatment or referral".
Doctors "have an absolute duty to conduct all research with honesty and integrity" and they "must always be prepared to explain and justify" their actions and decisions.
The General Medical Council web site is at http://www.gmc.uk.org
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