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GPs should log conflicts of interest on medical register, GMC suggests

The GMC is consulting on changes to the medical register, including allowing doctors to add conflicts of interest, which would be audited for accuracy.

Other fields that could be added are: higher qualifications, scope of practice, languages spoken, practice location and photographs.

According to the consultation, this additional information ‘would not be routinely verified’ but ‘may be subject to periodic audit to check its accuracy’. It would be the responsibility of the doctor to keep the information up to date.

While adding extra information would be voluntary, the consultation document admits that GPs may be at a disadvantage if they do not add this to their profile.

It said: ‘It is possible that those who access the register may hold doctors who voluntarily provide additional information about their practice in higher regard than those who, for justifiable reasons, do not provide additional information. In the end, just as it is for doctors to decide how much, or how little, information they want to provide, it must be for patients and others consulting the register to make choices based on the information available to them.’

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC said: ‘We need a modern register that is useful, relevant and accessible for doctors, employers and patients. In some ways the current register has changed little from the register of 1859 – but medical practice and patients’ expectations have changed radically and the register now needs to reflect that.

‘It contains limited information about doctors, such as where and when they qualified and whether they are on the GP or Specialist Register. But it does not provide a complete picture about a doctor’s practice, for example, what other qualifications they may have, where they work or if they now practise in another specialty. In many cases, years of experience and training are not reflected.’

He added tha the GMC ‘very much hopes’ this will be ‘an opportunity for doctors to take joint ownership of their entry on the register to provide a fuller picture of their practice’.