GMC warnings will only be public for five years


WARNINGS issued to doctors over their behaviour or performance will only be kept in the public domain for five years, the GMC has confirmed.

A warning will still be part of a doctor’s fitness-to-practise history and can be disclosed to employers for an indefinite amount of time. But the record will be removed from the GMC’s website after five years and won’t remain publicly available to everyone who enquires.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the change had been made in response to legal advice which clarified that it was a matter of balancing the public right to access against the doctor’s right to privacy and fairness.

He added: “It will be difficult to justify indefinite publication and disclosure of warnings, given that they are not a sanction on registration and are intended to be a response to matters that fall beneath the threshold of impaired fitness to practise.

“So when you get a warning it will be on your record for five years. The warning is basically saying not that your fitness to practise is impaired, but that we have concerns and that you need to do something about them.”

The move was welcomed by the BMA council GMC working party. Chair Brian Keighley said it was consistent with the concept of revalidation that encouraged continuing professional development.

He added: “Any warning issued by the GMC will feed into the five-year revalidation cycle. There is logic that a warning should be removed from the website on completion of a subsequent successful revalidation.”

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