A1. You must listen to patients and respect their individuality, concerns and preferences. You must be polite and considerate with patients and treat them with dignity and courtesy.

  1. Poor communication is at the root of most patient complaints. Effective communication is a two-way exchange, which involves not just talking but also listening with care.
  2. You should be alert to patients’ unspoken signals; for example, when a patient’s body language or tone of voice indicates that they may be uneasy, experiencing discomfort, or anxious and vulnerable.
  3. Patients will come to you with different experiences and expectations. You should try to accommodate their wishes as much as you can without compromising the care you can provide. If you cannot accommodate their wishes, you should explain why you are unable to do so.
  4. Be aware that patients will also have particular needs or values in relation to gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, belief, sexual orientation, lifestyle, age, social status, language, physical and mental health and disability. You must be able to respond respectfully and appropriately to these needs.
  5. Your patients should have your full attention and you should allow sufficient time to deal properly with their needs. If you are in sole practice, you should seek to minimise interruptions while you are with a patient.