Doctors reject proposals to include photos on GMC register

The GMC is considering scrapping its plans to add photographs and other detailed information to the medical register following a backlash from doctors.

Doctors have reacted negatively to GMC plans to add more detailed and personal information to the medical register, early analysis of feedback to a consultation shows.

The GMC asked for feedback in July on proposals to add a breadth of new information – including photographs, practice location and competing professional interests – to the register.

GP leaders warned at the time that the addition of photographs risked turning the register into a 'beauty parade'.

If taken forward, the changes would ‘transform’ the medical register and help it to become the ‘most advanced, transparent register in the world’, the regulator said at the time.

GP register

But early results from the consultation, published in a GMC blog post, suggest that most doctors do not agree, arguing that the list should only provide information showing they are fit to practise medicine.

The regulator did not confirm whether it would now scrap the plans in response to the feedback, but said it was ‘listening to what you are telling us’.

A full report analysing the consultation is due for release in February, and the regulator stressed that it ‘won't make any decisions about the development of the medical register’ until then.

The GMC received around 7,500 responses from GPs, consultants and others – ‘by far’ the largest response to any consultation it has ever run.

‘Emergent themes’ in the responses show that most doctors believe adding additional information could pose a risk to their safety and privacy.

Identity theft

Doctors overwhelmingly said they ‘could not see the benefit’ of adding photographs to the register, with some warning this could open them up to stalking, violence, fraud and identity theft.

A suggestion that the extra information could be added on a voluntary basis was also negatively received, as doctors feared this could create a tiered list and compel some doctors to give up more information than they would like if their peers do the same.

Richard Marchant, GMC assistant director, said: ‘Like all the consultations we hold, what we do next will be informed by what people have told us and in particular any concerns they have raised.

‘What we can say now is that we definitely will not – ever – be putting sensitive personal data about individual doctors into the public domain, either via the register or in any other way.

‘We will be doing some exploratory work with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to see if it would be possible and practical to capture information about doctors’ scope of practice on the register in an accurate and meaningful way, which is not costly and avoids imposing extra burdens on doctors. We will let you know in February how our thinking has developed on that.’

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