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Doctors advised on handling press

A UK organisation that offers legal and ethical advice to doctors has launched a handy guide on how to best handle the media.

Hospital consultants and GPs say they are often approached by reporters for comments on particular cases but are worried about respecting patient confidentiality.

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) has now surveyed over 600 doctors on their experience of dealing with the media in a bid to produce a comprehensive guide on the best ways of handling media coverage.

The study revealed that over 20% of hospital consultants and 10% of GPs had been contacted by the press about a patient. More than half (58%) of consultants had been contacted up to five times in the previous five years.

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About 60% rated media coverage about healthcare professionals as negative or very negative, but an overwhelming majority of 85% recognised that patients who complain to the press still have the right to patient confidentiality.

Dr Stephanie Bown, director of policy and communications, said: “MPS is only too aware of the enormous stress that doctors experience when they fall under the media spotlight and find themselves subject to negative comments and are constrained in their response by the principle of patient confidentiality.”

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