Updated confidentiality guidance from the GMC
16 September 2019
All doctors practising medicine in the UK will be expected to follow revised, expanded and restructured General Medical Council (GMC) ethical guidance on confidentiality.
The full guidance, which was issued on the 25th April, is called 'Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information' and can be found on the GMC website.
It has been updated following an extensive consultation exercise, and is more explicit than previously published guidance about working with patients. It now clarifies:
- The circumstances in which doctors can rely on implied consent to share patient information for direct care.
- The importance of sharing information for direct care, recognising the multi-disciplinary and multi-agency context doctors work in.
- The significant role that those close to a patient can play in providing support and care, and the importance of acknowledging that role.
- The public protection responsibilities of doctors, including when to make disclosures in the public interest.
- Supporting information about situations involving patient confidentiality that doctors may find hard to deal with. These include reporting concerns to the DVLA, reporting gunshot and knife wounds and disclosing information about serious communicable diseases.
'Confidentiality is at the heart of medical practice but it should not be a barrier to good care. That’s why in this publication we emphasise the importance of talking, and listening, to patients about what should happen to information about them. We also clarify that confidentiality does not prevent doctors listening to the views of those close to a patient, when that might be helpful to the patient’s care.’