- Jane O’Brien, Assistant Director, Standards & Fitness to Practise Directorate
General Medical Council, 350 Euston Road, London, NW1 3JN
“Edward Cooper is mistaken that the principle of making the care of your patients does not apply to doctors when they are assessing benefits claimants on behalf of ATOS. Our guidance is for all doctors and in the guidance we use the term ‘patient’ to refer to anyone whom doctors test, treat or assess in their professional capacity as a doctor. This includes amongst others, employees, benefits and insurance claimants, and athletes.
“The first duty of all doctors is ‘to make the care of your patient your first concern’. But that is not the only duty doctors must observe. Being open and honest and acting with integrity is also an essential part of medical professionalism. Good Medical Practice provides guidance, not a set of rules, so doctors must use their judgement to apply the duties and principles defined in our guidance to the various situations they face as a doctor, whether or not they routinely see patients in a therapeutic or any other role.
Dishonesty in writing reports cannot be justified by reference to the first duty of doctors. Further advice on disclosing information for employment, insurance and similar purposes can be found here: http://www.gmc- uk.org/Confidentiality_disclosing_info_insurance_2009.pdf_27493823.pdf”
Competing interests: None declared
For someone who cares deeply about professional standards, I find this to be very heartening response. It may also be of note to people who have been poorly treated within their medical assessments.