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© 2018 The Author(s). The RCGP conference, like other annual healthcare conferences offers a protected space for reflection on ethical aspects of practice. This paper presents a summary and discussion of a fringe session led by the RCGP Committee On Medical Ethics at the 2017 RCGP annual conference in Liverpool. Well thought-out rules offer a potential solution to the burden of responsibility for making every single decision from first principles. But guidelines can be difficult to follow, too numerous to know, may conflict with each-other and may not be appropriate in all circumstances. Delegates at this meeting discussed barriers to good guideline development and implementation, perceptions of medicolegal risk in non-adherence, aspects of benefit, harm and justice in guideline use and ethical guidelines. Delegates found it easier in the meeting to critique clinical rather than ethical guidelines. There was broad agreement that understanding how to practice in relation to guidelines represented a learning need in general practice education.

Original publication




Journal article


London Journal of Primary Care

Publication Date





34 - 38