Treat patients and colleagues fairly and without discrimination
56. You must give priority to patients on the basis of their clinical need if these decisions are within your power. If inadequate resources, policies or systems prevent you from doing this, and patient safety, dignity or comfort may be seriously compromised, you must follow the guidance in paragraph 22b.
As an occupational physician, you should also consider the risk to human health and safety, including that of individuals who may be affected by the work performed. Such risks may necessitate specific health assessments and investigations, and sometimes result in a restriction on work duties.
57. The investigations or treatment you provide or arrange must be based on the assessment you and your patient make of their needs and priorities, and on your clinical judgement about the likely effectiveness of the treatment options. You must not refuse or delay treatment because you believe that a patient’s actions or lifestyle have contributed to their condition.
58. You must not deny treatment to patients because their medical condition may put you at risk. If a patient poses a risk to your health or safety, you should take all available steps to minimise the risk before providing treatment or making other suitable alternative arrangements for providing treatment.
59. You must not unfairly discriminate against patients or colleagues by allowing your personal views* to affect your professional relationships or the treatment you provide or arrange. You should challenge colleagues if their behaviour does not comply with this guidance, and follow the guidance in paragraph 22c if the behaviour amounts to abuse or denial of a patient’s or colleague’s rights.
*This includes your views about a patient’s or colleague’s lifestyle, culture or their social or economic status, as well as the characteristics protected by legislation: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation
60. You must consider and respond to the needs of disabled patients and should make reasonable adjustments to your practice so they can receive care to meet their needs. (‘Reasonable adjustments’ does not only mean changes to the physical environment. It can include, for example, being flexible about appointment time or length, and making arrangements for those with communication difficulties such as impaired hearing. See www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance).
Note that GMC guidance places an onus on doctors, including occupational physicians, to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to facilitate consultation with their disabled patients; this is separate and additional to the advice they are likely to give managers on ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help disabled patients in their work.