The GMC is consulting on changes to transform the online medical register to make it more relevant to the public.
The register is the only up-to-date, publicly-accessible database of the 270,000 doctors who are registered and licensed to practise in the UK. Last year alone there were nearly seven million searches made on the register by doctors, employers and patients.
The register offers similar information about a doctor to the version that was first introduced as a hardback book in 1859.
To keep pace with public expectations and with social and technological changes, the GMC is seeking the public’s views on what changes could make the register more relevant in the future.
As well as publishing mandatory information, such as a doctor’s name, qualifications, gender and licence status, the GMC is consulting on adding voluntary information that doctors could choose to add to the register to make it more useful for them and their patients.
Options include the listing of higher qualifications, scope of practice, declaration of competing professional interests, languages spoken, practice location and photographs to demonstrate identity.
Niall Dickson, GMC Chief Executive, said: “We need a modern register that is useful, relevant and accessible for doctors, employers and patients.
“In some ways the current register has changed little from the register of 1859 – but medical practice and patients’ expectations have changed radically and the register now needs to reflect that.
“It contains limited information about doctors, such as where and when they qualified and whether they are on the GP or Specialist Register. But it does not provide a complete picture about a doctor’s practice, for example, what other qualifications they may have, where they work or if they now practise in another specialty. In many cases, years of experience and training are not reflected.
“We very much hope this will be an opportunity for doctors to take joint ownership of their entry on the register to provide a fuller picture of their practice.”
The consultation closes on 27 September 2016.