The NHS in England is an organisation undergoing substantial change. The passage of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, consolidates and builds on previous health policies and introduces further ‘market-style’ reforms of the NHS. One of the main aspects of these reforms is to encourage private and third sector providers to deliver NHS services. The rationale for this is to foster a more competitive market in healthcare to encourage greater efficiency and innovation. This changing healthcare environment in the English (...) NHS sharpens the need for attention to be paid to the ethical operation of healthcare organisations. All healthcare organisations need to consider the ethical aspects of their operation, whether state or privately run. However, the changes in the type of organisations used to provide healthcare (such as commercial companies) can create new relationships and ethical tensions. This paper will chart the development of organisational ethics as a concern in applied ethics and how it arose in the USA largely owing to changes in the organisation of healthcare financing and provision. It will be argued that an analogous transition is happening in the NHS in England. The paper will conclude with suggestions for the development of organisational ethics programmes to address some of the possible ethical issues raised by this new healthcare environment that incorporates both private and public sector providers. (shrink)
There are substantial numbers of frozen embryos in storage that will not be used by those who produced them for their own fertility treatment. One option for such embryos is to donate them to others to use in their fertility treatment. There has been considerable debate about how this process should be organized. In the US, there are embryo adoption programmes that mediate between those relinquishing embryos and potential recipients. This is a form of conditional embryo donation, where the relinquishing (...) couple can choose the recipient of their embryo. This article examines the ethical debate over conditional embryo donation for family building and explores the question of whether those who have unused frozen embryos should be able to determine who receives their embryos. The main objections to conditional embryo donation are examined: first, the embryo is not a person and therefore such concern over the placement of an embryo is unwarranted; secondly, potential donors might impose morally problematic conditions on who should receive their embryo; and thirdly, there are practical difficulties regarding organizational arrangements and the associated costs involved. It will be concluded that these objections can be countered and that if people wish to donate and receive embryos in this way there is no ethical objection to them doing so. (shrink)
In 2008 UK legislation was amended to enable the use of deferred consent for paediatric emergency care (EC) trials in recognition of the practical and ethical difficulties of obtaining prospective consent in an emergency situation. However, ambiguity about how to make deferred consent acceptable to parents, children and practitioners remains. In particular, little is known about practitioners’ views and experiences of seeking deferred consent in this setting.
Like any discipline, bioethics is a developing field of academic inquiry; and recent trends in scholarship have been towards more engagement with empirical research. This ‘empirical turn’ has provoked extensive debate over how such ‘descriptive’ research carried out in the social sciences contributes to the distinctively normative aspect of bioethics. This paper will address this issue by developing a practical research methodology for the inclusion of data from social science studies into ethical deliberation. This methodology will be based on a (...) naturalistic conception of ethical theory that sees practice as informing theory just as theory informs practice – the two are symbiotically related. From this engagement with practice, the ways that such theories need to be extended and developed can be determined. This is a practical methodology for integrating theory and practice that can be used in empirical studies, one that uses ethical theory both to explore the data and to draw normative conclusions. (shrink)
Infertility treatment is a speciality that has attracted considerable attention both from the public and bioethicists. The focus of this attention has mainly been on the dramatic dilemmas created by theses technologies. Relatively little is known, however, about how clinicians approach and resolve ethical issues on an everyday basis. The central aim of this study is to gain insight into these neglected aspects of practice. It was found that, for the clinicians, the process by which ethical decisions were made was (...) of key importance. It will be argued that this focus on the process of decision-making is more than just empty proceduralism but is based on and facilitates certain substantive ethical principles. In conclusion, suggestions as to how ethical decision-making processes can be supported and improved in infertility practice will be made. (shrink)
This paper examines the role of clinical ethics committees (CECs) in infertility clinics in the UK, focusing on whether they usefully support infertility clinicians' ethical decision-making. The overall aim of the study reported here was to investigate how infertility clinicians approached and handled ethical problems in their everyday practice and this paper reports on one aspect of these data – what they thought about the use of CECs. This paper gives an overview of what arrangements there are for such committees (...) in infertility clinics; considers why the clinicians used CECs; and examines how these committees provided a useful function in the infertility setting and contributed to making ‘good’ ethical decisions. Finally, the paper examines how the form of ethics support can be developed and strengthened, and concludes with recommendations for a particular model of CECs in infertility units – a designated CEC for each infertility unit. (shrink)
Labioplasty is a surgical procedure performed to alter the size and shape of the labia minora. The reasons for women requesting this procedure remain largely unknown and recently girls and young women under the age of 18 years have been requesting this type of surgery. This paper examines the ethical acceptability of performing this procedure on under 18s. We will first discuss whether labioplasty can be considered to be a therapeutic technique. We will claim that, while it is difficult to (...) offer a definitive definition of what constitutes a therapeutic technique, in our view labioplasty cannot be considered as such. This conclusion has relevance for the ethical acceptability of the procedure, its legal status in regard to the Female Genital Mutilation Act and the debates over who can give consent for it. It will be concluded that in our current state of knowledge, the benefits of labioplasty are far from clear, whereas the harms are demonstrable and therefore this procedure should not be offered to those aged under 18 years. (shrink)
General Practice and Ethics explores the ethical issues faced by general physicans in their everyday practice, addressing two central themes: the uncertainty of outcomes and effectiveness in general practice and the changing pattern of general practitioners' responsibilities.
The purpose of this paper is to consider the role that values play in priority setting through the use of EBP. It is important to be clear about the role of values at all levels of the decision making process. At one level, society as a whole has to make decisions about the kind of health provision that it wants. As is generally accepted, these priority setting questions cannot be answered by medical science alone but involve important judgements of value. (...) However, as I hope to show values come into priority setting questions at another level, one not often explicitly recognised in much of the literature: that of the very definition of the effectiveness of treatments. This has important consequences for patient care. If we do not recognise that the effectiveness of a treatment involve subjective elements â a patient's own assessment of the value of the treatment â then this could lead to the belief that we can purchase one treatment that is the most effective for all patients. This might result in a detrimental reduction in the range of options that a patient is given with some patients not receiving the treatment that is most effective for them. (shrink)