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Teaching and learning ethics
Medical ethics and law for doctors of tomorrow: the 1998 Consensus Statement updated
  1. G M Stirrat1,
  2. C Johnston2,
  3. R Gillon3,
  4. K Boyd4
  1. 1
    University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2
    King’s College London School of Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3
    Imperial College London, London, UK
  4. 4
    University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor G M Stirrat, Centre for Ethics in Medicine, Hampton House, Cotham Hill, Bristol BS6 6AU, UK; g.m.stirrat{at}


Knowledge of the ethical and legal basis of medicine is as essential to clinical practice as an understanding of basic medical sciences. In the UK, the General Medical Council (GMC) requires that medical graduates behave according to ethical and legal principles and must know about and comply with the GMC’s ethical guidance and standards. We suggest that these standards can only be achieved when the teaching and learning of medical ethics, law and professionalism are fundamental to, and thoroughly integrated both vertically and horizontally throughout, the curricula of all medical schools as a shared obligation of all teachers. The GMC also requires that each medical school provides adequate teaching time and resources to achieve the above. We reiterate that the adequate provision and coordination of teaching and learning of ethics and law requires at least one full-time senior academic in ethics and law with relevant professional and academic expertise. In this paper we set out an updated indicative core content of learning for medical ethics and law in UK medical schools and describe its origins and the consultative process by which it was achieved.

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  • ▸ Appendix 3 is published online only at

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

  • i The knowledge, skills and behaviours that define “a good doctor” are set out in the GMC’s Good medical practice.

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