Code of Conduct

Members of the Clinical Ethics Committee (CEC) should be expected to work within relevant legal and professional boundaries. The CEC may wish to prepare a Code of Conduct, which members are expected to abide by.

CECs seeking to draft a Code of Conduct are advised to consult national examples of such codes (and related guidance), in order to identify the key items to include. Examples include codes and guidance issued by the Department of Health and Social Care, the General Medical Council, and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Members of the Committee are expected to:

  • Respect patient confidentiality. They are expected to act responsibly in handling oral or written communication about individual patients, and to take all reasonable precautions to protect patient confidentiality.
  • Respect the rights of patients to be involved in decisions about their care. They should take account of the competence of patients to be involved in such decisions, and of the position of those close to the patient.
  • Be honest and act with integrity. The best interests of individual patients should be their first concern, though they may also need to consider wider interests. If the individual responsibilities of committee members result in conflicts of interest, these should be acknowledged and taken into account in the work of the committee.
  • Respect the views of other committee members, and colleagues. The committee will seek to achieve agreement, but differences of opinion should be acknowledged and recorded.
  • Refer matters beyond the scope of the committee to the appropriate body. This may include medico-legal questions, and matters concerning the quality of clinical care, and appropriate advice should then be sought.
  • Maintain awareness and understanding of clinical ethical issues. This should involve the pursuit of appropriate educational opportunities, with the encouragement and support of the Trust.
  • Promote the awareness of ethical issues involved in the work of the Trust. This should include the sharing and mutual understanding of specific professional guidance on the ethical standards of clinical practice. Promote the fair and equitable treatment of patients and their carers. The committee should encourage the Trust and its staff to treat patients and their carers in a fair and equitable manner.

We partner with the Institute of Medical Ethics (IME), an organisation which is dedicated to improving education and debate in medical ethics. Visit the IME website