GMC to revamp medical register

DOCTORS’ photos and more detailed information about their current job could be included in the online medical register under new proposals from the General Medical Council.

A consultation has been launched into plans to modernise the publicly-available register which has remained largely unchanged since it was created more than 150 years ago.

It currently lists every doctor who is licensed to practise in the UK and was searched nearly seven million times last year. It includes each doctor’s name, GMC reference number, gender, year of qualification, whether they are on the specialist register and their registration status.

But the GMC believe the register says little about a doctor’s actual practice and often contains out-of-date information. They are consulting on ways to improve it while also safeguarding doctors’ privacy.

Their consultation document stated: “If the medical register is to remain relevant and useful, it must evolve to meet the changing needs of those who use it. Knowing whether or not someone is a doctor may be necessary but it is no longer sufficient.”

They recommend moving to a “two tier” approach, with tier 1 covering information that must be provided by law including all the information currently on the register. Tier 2 would be additional information to be supplied and maintained voluntarily by the registrant. The GMC suggests this could include a registrant photo, languages spoken, higher qualifications, scope of practice and a link to the website of their place of work.

The GMC said tier 2 data would provide “a much richer description of a doctor’s professional life than is currently possible”, but acknowledged that this approach could lead to inconsistency in the information available as doctors could choose not to provide it.

This additional data would not be routinely verified by the GMC before being published on the register, but sample audits would be carried out to check for accuracy.

The consultation is open until October 7, 2016 at: https://gmc.e-consultation.net/econsult/consultation_Dtl.aspx?consult_Id=730&status=2&criteria=I