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How to correctly answer Ethical Scenarios in an NHS interview

  • July 27, 2022

There is a high chance your NHS interview panel will give you an ethical scenario. This is so the hospital can see your ethical and legal approach to modern medicine. You will be presented with an ethical dilemma that the hospital may have experienced before.

When a dilemma seems especially challenging, the General Medical Council offers a clear direction in the decision-making process. In this blog post, we explain the four pillars of medical ethics and provide some ethical scenarios you may encounter with answers.

What are the four pillars of medical ethics?

  1. Autonomy – The respect for the patient’s right to self-determination
  2. Beneficence – The duty ‘do good’
  3. Non-Maleficence – The duty ‘not to do bad’
  4. Justice – To treat all people equally and equitably

The law reflects these principles as follows:

  1. Autonomy
  • Consent
  • Confidentiality / Privacy
  • Access to Records
  1. Beneficence
  • Negligence Law
  1. Non-Maleficence
  • Criminal Law
  • Negligence law Regulation
  1. Justice
  • Anti-discrimination Law

Remember the Duty of Candor!

When something goes wrong with a patient's treatment or care and causes, or has the potential to create, harm or distress, every health and care provider must be upfront and honest with them. This is known in the NHS as The Professional Duty of Candor. Under this code of conduct health care providers within the NHS are expected to:

  • tell the person (or, where appropriate, their advocate, carer or family) when something has gone wrong
  • apologise to the person (or, where appropriate, their advocate, carer or family)
  • offer an appropriate remedy or support to put matters right (if possible)
  • explain fully to the person (or, where appropriate, their advocate, carer or family) the short and long term effects of what has happened.


Health and care workers must also be open and honest with their coworkers, employers, and other relevant organisations, as well as participate in evaluations and investigations when they are asked. They must also communicate openly and honestly with their regulators, flagging concerns as needed. They must encourage and support one another in being open and honest, rather than preventing someone from addressing concerns. It is important to remember this when answering an ethical scenario and most importantly remember that the patient comes first in all you do.


How to apply the four pillars of medical ethics to clinical scenarios?

It is always essential to first discuss arguments both for against the dilemma before coming up with a balanced conclusion that appreciates the nuances of ethical scenarios. This should always be done within the framework of the four pillars of medical ethics:

  • Autonomy – Does it show respect for the patient and their right to make decisions?
  • Non-maleficence – Does it harm the patient?
  • Justice – Are there consequences in the wider community?
  • Beneficence – Does it benefit the patient?

How can we help?

If you’re an international doctor looking to relocate to the UK, please email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you in securing an NHS post and on your journey to relocate to the UK.

Are you a member of our Facebook group? When you join IMG Advisor, you join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of vlogs and blogs to the group every day. We will also be on hand to answer all of your relocation queries.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 100 videos on everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS!

Listen to BDI Resourcing on the go to IMG Advisor the Podcast. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Buzzsprout. We have a number of episodes with tips and advice on relocating to the UK and the routes you can take to achieve this.


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