GMC shelves plans to add photos to medical register over privacy concerns

The GMC has confirmed that it 'won't be making any significant changes' to the medical register such as adding photographs and other personal information following a backlash from doctors.

The GMC will not make any changes this year to medical registers, despite its aim to ‘transform’ and update them, it has confirmed in a blog post.

The regulator originally had plans to include a wealth of additional information, including the scope of a doctor’s practice, a declaration of competing interest, languages spoken, practice location and photographs.

It first floated the idea last July and opened up a consultation to gather doctors’ feedback. GP leaders warned that the proposals risked turning the register into a ‘beauty parade’, and early results from the consultation suggested doctors widely opposed the plans.

Following the negative response, it is now exploring other ways of collecting information on doctors’ scope of practice that ‘do not impose any extra costs or burdens on doctors or compromise their privacy or safety in any way’.

GMC register

It said that not knowing a doctor’s scope of practice was ‘an issue’ with the current register, and knowing this information would help it produce tools and support for doctors – such as the guidance it released for doctors who provide cosmetic treatments and surgery last year.

Work is now underway with help from the medical colleges to find more appropriate solutions to this problem, which is particularly relevant to the specialist register, where estimates suggest 14% of doctors no longer work in their registered specialty.

Richard Marchant, an assistant director at the GMC, said: ‘We have listened carefully to the views expressed by the profession in response to this – in particular their concerns about privacy and safety – and we won’t be making any significant changes at this stage.’

He added: ‘While we work with the medical royal colleges, we want to bring the look, feel and functionality of the medical register into the 21st century so that we can make it simpler and easier for everyone to use. Compared to some other countries, our register is looking out of date.’

Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, medicolegal adviser at Medical Protection, said: ‘Any increase in the amount of information the medical register contains about doctors, risks the accuracy and robustness of the register and would place extra burdens on our members.

‘We believe the GMC’s ambition should be for the information held on the register to remain fully up-to-date, accurate, and dependable – so it continues to be fit for purpose.’

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