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Plans leave GPs 'exposed to stalkers'

GPs could be vulnerable to identity theft and revenge attacks from stalkers under Government plans to make more information publicly available.

This is the view of GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden, who argues that GPs' home phone numbers, addresses and previous misdemeanours must not be published.

The Government announced last week in its white paper on regulation that it will review the performers list system, examining what GP information should be held centrally.

The move raises issues about GP privacy and access to records. Dr Holden said: 'We

live in an age of stalking and identity theft. It is important that some things are not publicly available. GPs have a right to privacy.

'All the public needs to know is whether the proper authorities think GPs are safe to practise. They do not need much more than that.'

Dr Peter Smith, a GP and president of the National Association of Primary Care, said: 'It is hard to know what information could be stated that would prevent another Shipman.' The Government said information available would reflect 'fair treatment' of professionals.

The review will also consider whether PCTs should have sanctions lesser than suspension or removal from a list. These could include fines, formal warnings or a commitment from GPs to improve rusty skills. The Government argues that some PCTs are 'overburdened' in maintaining local performers lists.

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