The development and function of Clinical Ethics Committees (CECs) in the United Kingdom

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Vic Larcher


In the UK an increasing number of Clinical Ethics Committees (CECs) have been developed mainly in response to local need and interest. Their functions include education of health professionals, of policy and guideline development, and case review (both retrospective analysis of topics and advice on acute cases). The UK Clinical Ethics Network, a charitable foundation provides CEC s with help, support and advice and enables them to share their experience The legal status of UK CECs is unclear but some legal commentators have suggested that CECs lack competencies and procedural rules necessary for acute case review. The UKCEN has proposed core competencies for CECs that lists the ethical, operational and procedural skills, knowledge and personal attributes required and how they may be acquired, assessed and maintained. Their implementation might lead to the development of ethical and legal governance which should benefit to future patient care.


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How to Cite
Larcher, Vic. 2009. “The Development and Function of Clinical Ethics Committees (CECs) in the United Kingdom”. Diametros, no. 22 (December):47-63.
Special topic - Clinical Ethics Committees
Author Biography

Vic Larcher

Vic Larcher, dr MB, BChir, MA, FRCPCH Consultant in Paediatrics and Clinical Ethics Great Ormond Street Hospital London United Kingdom

Dr Vic Larcher completed his medical training at Cambridge University and St Bartholomew's Hospital London. He held training posts in both general and specialist paediatrics before his appointment as a consultant to the former Hospitals for Sick Children group. He completed an MA in Medical Law and Ethics and was a member of the Working Party which led to the establishment of the GOSH Clinical Ethics Committee. He is currently the Chair of both the GOSH Clinical tics Committee and of the Ethics Committee of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the UK Clinical Ethics Network. His current post at GOSH, combining Clinical Ethics, General and Specialist Paediatrics (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, child protection) is unique in the UK.

The views expressed in this article are his own.

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