GMC advised to rethink personal belief advice

The BMA has urged the GMC to 'think again' and develop guidance on personal beliefs that protects both doctors and patients.

The draft proposals in 'Personal beliefs and medical practice' extend the right of doctors to opt out of procedures due to their beliefs.

The BMA would like the number of treatments that a doctor can object to limited to a clearly defined set. They advise that guidance makes it clear that intentionally to fail to inform patients about all available treatment would be gross misconduct.

Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the BMA medical ethics committee, said: 'This guidance will not benefit doctors or patients. It seems to give doctors a mandate to opt out of procedures to which they have an ethical objection.'

The BMA is concerned that this will confuse patients as to whether treatment has been refused because it is not clinically appropriate, or because the doctor objects to the treatment or the patient's lifestyle.

The GMC said: 'We foresee considerable difficulty in determining which treatments should be covered by our guidance on conscientious objections, and those which doctors should be forced to provide.'

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

GMC draft guidance

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