n Mental Health Matters - The South African Society of Psychiatrists' scope of practice and social contract with society

Volume 2, Issue 4
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Medicine's relationship with society has been seen as a contract, according to Cruess. He suggests that this understanding and mutual agreement between the medical profession and society is also referred to as a compact, and may further imply an (unwritten) memorandum of agreement or understanding in which the scope, principles, quality and outcome of this agreement are specified. This implies a series of reciprocal rights and duties, privileges and obligations, as well as expectations from both sides. While society would grant to the profession autonomy of practice, monopoly of use of their knowledge-base, privilege of self-regulation, as well as financial and non-financial rewards, the profession is required to, in return, regard patients' interests above their own, to assure competence of practicing members, to demonstrate probity, morality and integrity, to address issues of societal concern and to be devoted to public good. Society expects the services of a competent, moral, accountable and transparent healer, as well as objective advice and altruistic service.

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