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GMC Good Medical Practice Review

We call for the introduction of a fifth domain on ‘sustainability’ in Good Medical Practice Guidelines.

Frontline health workers provide a vital role in enabling the systemic and cultural changes that are needed to mitigate, adapt and reduce the health burden of the climate crisis. The UK government has published guidance[1] for health professionals to act on the climate crisis in their professional practice.

The GMC Good Medical Practice Review provides an opportunity to position sustainability as a core focus of practice, acknowledging the ethical and moral duty of doctors to play their part in averting a global humanitarian disaster. In order to achieve this, we recommend the introduction of a fifth domain on ‘sustainability’ in the Good Medical Practice Guidelines.

The Good Medical Practice Review provides an opportunity for the GMC to play a significant part in what could be the most exciting and positive transformation in human history, while also averting a health catastrophe, saving potentially billions of lives. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that timing is crucial. Action is needed now and cannot wait another five years for the next update. We make this proposal with respect to the many other pressures currently facing frontline doctors, and the recognition that this is a global health emergency. The positive impacts of adding a fifth domain are:

  1. Medical appraisal is usually based on the GMP domains. Inclusion of a domain on sustainability will help mobilise the medical workforce to support decarbonisation of health care. The NHS will struggle to achieve its net zero targets without this level of engagement by clinical teams given that more than two thirds of the NHS carbon footprint relates to clinical activity.2
  2. It would make a clear public statement, using the trusted voice of the medical profession, regarding the urgency and importance of action of the climate crisis.

Good Medical Practice review response

Our proposal for a fifth domain on sustainability in Good Medical Practice


GMC Good Medical Practice

The GMC Good Medical Practice describes what it means to be a good doctor


Applying all our health

UK Government guidance on why health professionals should act on the climate crisis in professional practice