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What information to share and when

What information needs to be shared

These principles cover information about doctors which, if not disclosed, could put patients at risk or adversely affect public confidence in the medical profession. This includes – but is not limited to – concerns that reach the threshold for referring a doctor to the GMC. We define three categories of information that should be shared.

  • Information potentially affecting patient safety. This includes, as a minimum, any current local or GMC restrictions on a doctor’s practice. It may also include persistent or unaddressed lower-level concerns that are sufficiently serious to create a risk to patients.
  • Information that could impact negatively on public confidence in the medical profession. This includes, as a minimum, unaddressed concerns about a doctor’s probity and any relevant criminal cautions or convictions.
  • Concerns that a doctor is not engaging with revalidation such that the responsible officer does not feel able to provide assurance about the doctor’s fitness to practise.

What information should not be shared

Information should not be shared if it does not impact on the care a doctor gives to patients or the confidence that patients should have in the doctor.

Where a concern is under investigation but not yet substantiated, the doctor’s responsible officer must be informed. But the responsible officer should not disseminate further unless there is an immediate risk to patient safety – for example, if the doctor’s practice has been restricted in some way while the investigation takes place.

When and how information should be shared

Any information meeting the definition in these principles should be shared with the doctor’s responsible officer as soon as reasonably practicable after coming to light.

Information should be shared securely in writing, on a confidential basis, with the doctor’s responsible officer. The responsible officer will then pass on this information to other organisations or individuals that are known to employ, or use the services of, that doctor.

In line with law governing data protection, human rights and confidentiality, doctors should be told that information about them is being shared unless there is good reason not to do so (for example, because it relates to criminal activity or a complainant’s right to privacy).