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GMC proposals to toughen systems for dealing with sick doctors will damage confidentiality and lead people to cover up medical problems, GPs are warning.

A report from the GMC's health review group released this week calls for details of a doctor's illness to be revealed to partners and PCT managers.

Prospective employers, including other PCTs, would be able to access confidential information via a new online service from next year.

Less detailed information on any conditions on a doctor's registration imposed because of illness will also be put on the GMC website for patients to access.

The measures, which are up for consultation until September 12, come in response to calls by the Shipman Inquiry for tighter controls on doctors with health problems, such as addiction.

Dr Fay Wilson, a GP in Birmingham who chairs GMC fitness to practise health panels, said the proposals would force doctors to hide their ill-

health and could prove 'disastrous'.

She said: 'My biggest anxiety is that the health procedures of the GMC will become not confidential and will be seen as punitive by the doctors and the ones who care for them.'

The changes may stop GPs informing the GMC of concerns over colleagues in the future Dr Wilson said.

Dr Krishna Korlipara, GMC member and a GP in Bolton, said it would be wrong to put information about doctors' health on the GMC website.

He said: 'At a time when the GMC is under fire from the profession, it would be well advised not to disregard our views.'

The report of the health review group states an investigation into a doctor's health could also involve an assessment of their performance, conduct or a criminal conviction.

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