The General Medical Council (GMC) has announced proposals for new time limits for how long sanctions on a doctor’s registration are published online or made available to the public.
According to Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC, the consultation is about making the information more accessible and making the decisions taken by the GMC clearer for patients and the public.
Under current rules, when a doctor receives a sanction the outcome is published on the GMC’s website and disclosed to anyone who asks. It also remains online indefinitely even after any restrictions have been lifted.
“Patients and the public have a right to know if there have been serious concerns about their doctor”, said Mr Dickson. “However, we also want to be fair to those doctors who have been through our procedures. Under Human Rights law we have to be proportionate and we have also reflected on changes in the law around the disclosure of criminal convictions. As a result we have concluded that publishing sanctions indefinitely in some situations could be disproportionate, if it happened a long time ago or if the doctor is no longer practising.”
The GMC proposals includes details of doctors who have been suspended, had restrictions on their practice, agreed undertakings such as retraining or been erased from the medical register altogether.
Mr Dickson continued: “We want to strike the correct balance between the rights of patients to know and a doctor’s right to privacy. We are keen to hear from patients, doctors and others with an interest in our work so that we can get this important balance right.”