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The advertising of doctors' services.
  1. D H Irvine
  1. General Medical Council's Committee on Standards of Professional Conduct and on Medical Ethics, Northumberland.


    Medicine is unique among professions and trades, offering a 'product' which is unlike any other. The consequences for patients of being attracted by misleading information to an inappropriate doctor or service are such as to demand special restrictions on the advertising of doctors' services. Furthermore, health care in the UK is organised around the 'referral system', whereby general practitioners refer patients to specialists when necessary rather than have specialists accept patients on self-referral. But this need not inhibit the provision of helpful factual information to those who need it. Recent policy changes by the General Medical Council considerably broaden the scope for general practitioners to make factual information of their services available to local people, while safeguarding the public against promotional activities which are designed to increase demand for certain kinds of specialist service by playing upon individuals' fears and lack of medical knowledge.

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