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UK primary legislation

Medical Act 1983

The most important piece of legislation is the Medical Act. This provides the legal basis for everything that we do. It gives us specific powers and duties to carry out our functions.

View the Medical Act 1983 (consolidated version)

The GMC was first established under the Medical Act 1858. The Act has been updated by Parliament on many occasions since then. This ensures that medical regulation changes to reflect the changing needs of the society within which we work.  

The current Act is the Medical Act 1983. The 1983 Act has been amended on a number of occasions since it first came into force, most recently in 2015 by The General Medical Council (Fitness to Practise and Over-arching Objective) and the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (References to Court) Order 2015, which makes a number of key changes to the 1983 Act, including:

  • Establishing the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) on statutory footing
  • Introducing a right of appeal for the GMC against MPTS decisions
  • Improving how the GMC investigates concerns.

For more information about the changes introduced by the most recent amendment order, view our page on Making our processes fairer, faster and more efficient.  

The main changes that have taken place since 2002 are shown in the following amending legislation;

The powers and duties that are currently in force are shown in the consolidated version of the Medical Act 1983.

The current Act covers

  • our statutory purpose
  • governance of the GMC (including how our members are appointed)
  • our responsibilities in relation to the medical education, registration and revalidation of doctors, and for giving guidance to doctors on matters of professional conduct, performance and ethics.

The Act also sets out our powers and responsibilities for dealing with doctors whose fitness to practise may be impaired.