GMC and Data Access Requests

Data Access Requests and the GMCObtaining Data from the GMC

The General Medical Council (GMC) is a custodian of numerous different types of data, which includes much personal data relating to medical doctors. The GMC receives a number of requests each year for disclosure of data, by way of subject access requests and by way of freedom on information disclosure requests. The GMC also has a statutory power to give disclosure, pursuant to the Medical Act (1983) as amended:

S35B(2) of the Act says:

(2) The General Council may, if they consider it to be in the public interest to do so, publish, or disclose to any person, information –

(a)    which relates to a particular practitioner’s fitness to practise, whether the matter to which the information relates arose before or after his registration, or arose in the United Kingdom or elsewhere; or

(b)    of a particular description related to fitness to practise in relation to every practitioner, or to every practitioner of a particular description.

The GMC does give disclosure where it is appropriate and reasonable to do so, such as to other healthcare regulators around the world. The GMC will disclose concerns to other regulators where  it is in the wider public interest to make such disclosures. This will usually be where a doctor might pose a risk to patients or others and the information is not yet in the public domain.

But the GMC also declines a number of applications each year, particularly if they are from lay individuals seeking information about a particular doctor.

Some unsuccessful individuals appeal to the UK data commissioners, and below are some of the appeal cases that have been decided:-

In General Medical Council (Health) [2022] UKICO ic-123448 the a complainant had requested access to all complaints made to the General Medical Council (‘GMC’) about a named doctor. The GMC declined to disclose the information under the Freedom of Information Act provisions. The Information Commissioner (ICO) upheld the decision, as the data was of a personal nature and therefore exempt from disclosure. The GMC was also quite properly state that it could neither confirm nor deny whether it held such data. (February 2022)

In General Medical Council (Health) [2021] UKICO IC-59213 the Information Commissioner held that the GMC was entitled not to disclose whether or not the GMC held data about a doctor, pertaining to three allegations, as to do so would inevitably disclose personal data. (April 2021)

In General Medical Council (Health) [2020] UKICO IC-46060 the Information Commissioner held that the GMC did not have to disclose the qualifications  and area of psychiatric expertise of an expert the GMC employed, who was tasked with investigating a complaint made to the GMC about a doctor. (November 2020)

See further reported cases on decisions relating to the GMC, made by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

See also our other guidance on GMC and ICO expectations of data handing in clinical settings.

And the GMC’s own Data Policies.

If you would like assistance with obtaining data from the GMC, give us a call on 0800 10 88 709 or use our contact form.