The GMC is seeking views, through a public consultation launched today, on how to improve the medical register (List of Registered Medical Practitioners, LRMP), which is the only database of doctors registered and licensed to practise medicine in the UK.

It gives details of:

  • a doctor’s GMC reference number
  • the year and place they completed their primary medical qualification
  • whether or not they currently have a licence to practise medicine
  • the date they were registered
  • whether they are on the GP and/or Specialist Register
  • any publicly available fitness to practise history (since 20 October 2005)
  • whether they are in a GMC-approved training programme and the speciality in which they are training (since 18 January 2016)
  • whether they are a GMC-approved trainer of doctors in GP training (since 18 January 2016)
  • the name of their Responsible Officer and the designated body which is responsible for their revalidation (since 18 January 2016).

The case for change

Last year, there were nearly 7 million searches of the UK medical register. But, in many respects, the register has remained largely unchanged since it was first published in 1859. Meanwhile, the complexity and context of medical practice, patient expectations and culture have all changed significantly.

Front page of the first medical register published in 1859
Front page of the first medical register published in 1859 © tonysleep.co.uk

A GMC-commissioned study last year found that the current register provides limited information compared with registers in other countries and that it has not kept pace with advances in technology, changes in expectations about access to information and the expansion of the GMC’s own functions, such as the introduction of revalidation.

Last year, there were nearly 7 million searches of the UK medical register.

The medical register must evolve to meet these changing needs. Today’s register shows limited detail and can provide an incomplete picture of a doctor’s day-to-day practice.

Many doctors’ careers are complex and see them working in different areas. For example, a GP might offer private cosmetic treatments or work in emergency care outside of normal surgery hours. If the medical register gave this level of detail about the scope each doctor’s practice it is more likely to be useful and relevant to the user.

Today’s register shows limited detail and can provide an incomplete picture of a doctor’s day-to-day practice.

We want patients, employers and doctors to be able to access information that in the past was only available to experts and this data has to be provided in a clear and accessible format.

What changes are we proposing?

We are proposing to develop the register in a way that would allow doctors to voluntarily provide additional information about their practice on the register. This would mean that doctors could choose to add details about their scope of practice or employment history, for example.

Other information a doctor may want to voluntarily add on the register could include:

  • Languages spoken
  • Practice location
  • Registrant photo
  • Declarations of competing professional interest

With this information, the register would provide a much richer description of a doctor’s professional life than is currently possible.

What will the register look like?

Our ambition is to provide an easy, joined up experience for everyone using the medical register, which means providing information that is set out in plain English and is easy to find, use and understand.

To illustrate how we might develop the register in this way, below is an example of what the register could look like in the future.

What the medical register could look like in the future (illustrative purposes only)
What the medical register could look like in the future (illustrative purposes only)

We want to hear from you

We want to hear your views about our vision for the register and how it can be more open, relevant and useful. You can take part in our consultation by visiting www.gmc-uk.org/LRMPconsultation.

We want to know what patients and the public think about our register, the type of information they think it should provide and what they want to know about their doctor.

We want to hear from doctors on how they think the register should change and how they would feel about sharing more information about their working life on the register.

We are also keen to hear from employers on what information about the doctors they employ (or those they are thinking of employing) would be useful to include on the register.

And of course, it’s very important that we get feedback from doctors themselves on how they think the register should change and how they would feel about sharing more information about their working life on the register.

We want to make sure that we work collaboratively with others to develop the register in a way which is useful to all those who use it.

We’ve already engaged with a number of doctor groups and employers on some of the issues contained in the consultation but are keen to work closely with other interested groups throughout the consultation period. Our engagement about how we develop the register is still at an early stage. We want to make sure that we work collaboratively with others to develop the register in a way which is useful to all those who use it.

This consultation is an opportunity for everyone to contribute their views on how we should develop the medical register and it will allow the users of the medical register to be the driving force behind any improvements.

Jessie Roff is Policy and Planning Officer at the General Medical Council.

Related posts

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The GMC’s Head of Diversity, Andrea Callender, explains why we want to understand even more about the diversity of doctors in the UK