The General Medical Council (GMC) is introducing time limits on how long it publishes information about doctors who have been sanctioned after fitness to practice hearings.
The new system of time limits will start in early 2017.
It will mean that details about a doctor who has been struck off will be published for 10 years. If they are ever restored to practice the fact that they were once erased will be published as long as they are registered with the GMC, with an additional five years after they leave the register of 245,000 doctors.
Information about doctors who have been suspended for more than three months will remain on the GMC website for 15 years.
Details about doctors who had conditions put on their registration or who have been suspended for up to three months will be publically available for 10 years.
Information about restrictions issued purely for health concerns will be removed from the public record when sanctions are lifted, the GMC said.
Previously the outcomes of sanctions against doctors were published on the GMC’s website indefinitely, even when they were lifted or the doctor had left the register.
The GMC said changes were designed to make publication of sanctions were proportionate and ensured public protection, while reflecting human rights laws.
The moves come after public consultations last year.
In 2014 there were 237 fitness to practice hearings and 71 doctors were erased from the register and 86 suspended from the list.
The GMC’s chief executive Niall Dickson said patients had a right to know if there were serious concerns about a doctor.
Transparency about sanctions would continue.
“However, it is also important that we are fair to doctors and proportionate in our approach. A mistake made in the early part of a career should not necessarily cast a shadow over the rest of the time a doctor is practicing.”
Plans to update the GMC website with all sanctions placed on a doctors registration between 1994 and 2015 have been scrapped. The GMC said there are a “very small” number of cases and the information will be available on request.
Information solely about doctors’ health will remain confidential.
Details about a doctor’s fitness to practice will not be published on the online register after their death.
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