General Medical Council

Last updated: May 2, 2017

What Does General Medical Council Mean?

The General Medical Council (GMC) is a registered UK charity that is responsible for the following:

  • Maintaining the UK’s official list of registered physicians
  • Setting professional standards for physicians
  • Setting standards for medical education in the UK
  • Investigating and ruling on complaints about physicians

These functions are performed in accordance with national statutory requirements regarding the need for professional medical oversight in the United Kingdom. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a collaborative relationship and working agreement with the GMC and relies on the GMC’s recognition of physicians in order to determine their suitability for practicing medical surveillance.

Safeopedia Explains General Medical Council

The GMC was initially created as an Act of Parliament through the passage of the Medical Act 1858 and it became a registered charity in 2001.

The HSE and the GMC regularly communicate to improve the ability of physicians to conduct occupational health functions and to inform each other about relevant concerns, including occupational health and safety issues within the medical community and concerns about the performance of physicians who have been appointed by the HSE to conduct health and safety surveillance. The relationship between the HSE and the GMC is governed by a formal working agreement made in 2012.

The HSE regularly appoints physicians as responsible for conducting medical surveillance activities in workplaces. These physicians are recognized as suitable for use by employers who have a legal obligation to practice medical surveillance due to potential employee exposure to workplace hazards. The HSE requires all appointed physicians to be registered with the GMC and to have a GMC-recognized qualification in occupational medicine. While appointed physicians are responsible to the HSE, the role that the GMC has in regulating standards for professional practice gives it major influence in determining how physicians perform their functions as occupational health practitioners. For instance, because of a 2009 provision by the GMC, employers can usually only access health information about their employees with the employee’s consent.


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