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Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics Updated to Clarify Standards Expected of Doctors

The Medical Council, on 17th May 2016, published its updated Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics (8th Edition) at an event at the Light House Cinema in Smithfield.

The guide was updated after the Council completed a comprehensive consultation process with members of the public, doctors and a range of partner organisations on issues relating to doctors’ professional conduct and ethics.

A survey of 1,000 members of the public was conducted by Amárach on behalf of the Council, while 566 doctors were surveyed by the Council. These studies found that:

  • Members of the public continue to display high levels of trust in the profession and high levels of satisfaction with the doctors they attend most often. Nine in ten members of the public agreed that they trust doctors to tell the truth, while 93% of patients rated their experience with the doctor they attend most often as either ‘very satisfactory’ or ‘fairly satisfactory’;
  • Four in ten (43%) members of the public believed that doctors’ practice had improved in the past five years, compared with 45% of doctors, while doctors were more likely to think that practice had deteriorated. Two in ten (22%) doctors thought that doctors’ practice had gotten worse, compared with 13% of the general public.
  • When asked to choose from a list of 50 different attributes they have found to be important in a doctor, both patients and doctors agreed that “behaving honestly and with integrity” was the most important aspect of professionalism.
  • Patients and doctors rated “showing leadership skills and initiative” as the 36th most important attribute out of a possible 50 options.

Click here to view an infograph of the most highly rated aspects of doctors’ professionalism by public and doctors

The updated guide includes new guidance on professionalism and three ’pillars of professionalism’ were identified with the aim of underpinning good care in the form of partnership, practice and performance. There is also new guidance on consent, equality and diversity, doctors in leadership and the use of social media as well as telemedicine.

The launch event focused on issues relating to doctors’ and patients’ use of social media as well as the importance of advocacy as a key component of doctors’ professionalism. Speakers included Dr Fidelma Fitzpatrick, senior lecturer at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, Ms Marie Ennis-O’Connor, writer and social media consultant and Dr Alan Coss, gastroenterologist at The Galway Clinic all of whom participated in a roundtable discussion on social media and advocacy in the profession.

The survey data will form part of a wider project “Talking about good professional practice” which will be published later in the year.

For updates on the Council's work, you can follow us on Twitter @MedCouncilIrl

Ethics Speakers