The role of the GMC
The purpose of the General Medical Council (GMC) is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine.
The law gives us four main functions under the Medical Act 1983:
- keeping up-to-date registers of qualified doctors
- fostering good medical practice
- promoting high standards of medical education and training
- dealing firmly and fairly with doctors whose fitness to practise is in doubt.
If you are a member of the public you can read more in What we do - information for patients and public.
Protecting the public
The General Medical Council is the independent regulator for doctors in the UK. Our statutory purpose is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine.
We do that by controlling entry to the medical register and setting the standards for medical schools and postgraduate education and training. We also determine the principles and values that underpin good medical practice and we take firm but fair action where those standards have not been met.
We have strong and effective legal powers designed to maintain the standards the public have a right to expect of doctors. We are not here to protect the medical profession - their interests are protected by others. Our job is to protect patients.
Where any doctor fails to meet those standards, we act to protect patients from harm - if necessary, by removing the doctor from the register and removing their right to practise medicine.
Independence and accountability
Patients’ interests are best served by independent, accountable regulation. The GMC must be independent of government as the dominant provider of healthcare in the UK; independent of domination by any single group; and be publicly accountable for the discharge of its functions.
Independent, accountable regulation must:
- Put patient safety first
- Support good medical practice
- Promote fairness and equality and value diversity
- Respect the principles of good regulation: proportionality, accountability, consistency, transparency and targeting
Our legal status
The General Medical Council (GMC) was established under the Medical Act of 1858.
Over time a range of new legislation has been introduced that defines our powers and responsibilities in the various areas of our work.
The GMC is a registered charity in England and Wales (1089278) and Scotland (SC037750).
Our governing body, the Council, has 12 members of which 6 are doctors and 6 are lay members, all appointed following an independent appointments process.