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GMC admits indefinite record of sanctions against GPs 'could be disproportionate'

The GMC is proposing that sanctions against a GP will be no longer be public 20 years after being imposed, after determining that the current system of keeping records of sanctionsindefinitely could be ‘disproportionate’.

The change would apply to records published online and patient requests for information about a doctor, and it would vary based on the severity of the sanction.

This, the GMC states, would strike a balance between the need for transparency to maintain trust in the medical profession and doctors’ right to privacy.

Information will continue to be provided to current employers and overseas regulators, even where a time limit has expired, but the GMC is consulting on whether expired information should be made routinely available to prospective employers.

The consultation proposes that doctors who had been removed by a fitness-to-practise panel to later be reinstated would have the sanction remain on their record for as long as they are registered with the GMC, and for five years after.

For sanctions other than removal from the register - such as suspension, conditions, undertakings – the time limit would be ‘20 years from the date the sanction expires or the undertakings are revoked’.

It is also consulting on whether historical records of sanctions from 1994 to 2005 – which aren’t currently available online – should be digitised and uploaded.

The consultation states: ‘[Currently] all sanctions on a doctor’s registration, imposed by either a fitness-to-practise panel or an interim orders panel, remain on their record on the medical register indefinitely.

‘We propose to introduce a range of limits for the length of time that sanctions will be published on a doctor’s record on the online medical register or disclosed to general enquirers.’

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

The consultation will run until 23 September and responses can be sent through view the GMC’s website. The results of the consultation will be published in February 2016 and new policies introduced in August 2016

Readers' comments (7)

  • 20 years is good as indefinitely.

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  • There are a good deal more GMC activities than this which "could be disproportionate".

    1. Having access to ALL of a sick doctors personal medical records, rather than what is relevant via an Occupational Health assessment report.

    2. Doctor receives vexatious complaint. Loses the family home during the lengthy investigation which clears them. Doctor or their significant other has a breakdown etc etc

    3. Locum cannot work as informing all employers of a "nonsense" complaint/investigation causes "smoke where there is no fire"

    Please add to this list !
    PS: "digitise" away, we can't stop you...

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  • we are accountable but who are the GMC accountable to for the many suicides of doctors who were under investigation?

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  • Victoria - you make a very good point. I worry that the GMC 'sanctions' can be very disproportionate - and can results in loss of livllihood, for life, for a relatively 'minor' offence (e.g plagiarism, minor change in CV, shoplifting when depressed, 2nd drink-drive offence but now currently in recovery)

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  • I have a clean record but I am taking pleasure in removing my name off the register to ensure they have no power over me once I surrendered my licence to practice due to the difficulty of revalidating (because I was not working for the NHS). It actually took me a while to have it aggreed to have it removed. But the more the GMC put objections in, the more determined I became to do it. Now I will soon be without the fear of having my name struck off for their whim incase they get offenced by my future critisism of them.

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  • Another nail in the coffin for GPs . An organisation partly composed of failed individuals unable to do the job themselves making it more difficult for front line line staff.
    The GMC is a cowardly organisation pandering to the needs of politicians whilst having little understanding of the needs of those who sustain the NHS.
    The primary role of the GMC now appears to be the gradual destruction of the morale of doctors and eventually the NHS itself as this sort of behaviour from pen pushers who hide behind the bushes away from the front line will not be tolerated indefinitely !

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  • The constant pressure on doctors from regulators, media and more and more the public, is reducing morale and stopping people entering the profession. We will end up like social workers - who go into the job wishing to do their best for people, but end up in a no win situation and blamed when things "go worng".

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