Information sharing principles

Purpose and context

Timely sharing of information is an essential component of robust clinical governance. These principles are designed to support the development of common practice across the UK healthcare system in which information about doctors is shared consistently to ensure patient safety, to support the doctors involved and to promote public confidence. They have been prepared by the GMC with the support of partner organisations.

The principles:

  • apply to all doctors – whatever the nature or location of their work – and to all organisations or individuals who contract with, or use the services of, doctors
  • support responsible officers in their statutory duty to make sure that appraisal and revalidation processes take account of information covering a doctor’s whole scope of practice*
  • define minimum expectations, rather than exhaustive guidance, for sharing information when doctors work in multiple locations or move between roles.

The principles

Patient safety is paramount when deciding whether to share information about doctors. Other considerations are maintaining public confidence in the medical profession and supporting doctors’ health or wellbeing.

Doctors have a professional duty, set out in Good medical practice, to be honest and trustworthy in all communications with patients and colleagues. This includes being honest about their current roles and any restrictions on their practice.

3 Unless there are exceptional circumstances, a doctor should be made aware when information about them is being shared.

4 Information about doctors must be securely stored and handled, in line with the law and respecting the privacy of individual doctors.

5 Individuals who have governance responsibility for doctors working in any setting have a duty to share any information of note about a doctor with that doctor’s responsible officer.

6 Responsible officers should act as hubs, receiving information about the practice of their connected doctors and sharing this with appropriate individuals in other places where the doctor works.

* Section 11(3) of the Medical Profession (Responsible Officers) Regulations 2010, as amended, and Section 9(3) of the Medical Profession (Responsible Officers) Regulations (NI) 2010 place a duty on responsible officers to ensure that medical practitioners have regular appraisals which obtain and take account of all available information relating to the medical practitioner’s fitness to practise in the work carried out for the designated body, and for any other body, during the appraisal period.

† All references to responsible officer should be taken to include suitable persons approved by the GMC.