Regulating doctors, ensuring good medical practice

Our role

We protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by making sure that doctors follow proper standards of medical practice.

We have four main functions.

  • Keeping up-to-date registers of qualified doctors.
  • Fostering good medical practice.
  • Promoting high standards of medical education and training.
  • Dealing firmly and fairly with doctors whose fitness to practise is in doubt.

We protect the public

We are the independent regulator for doctors in the UK.

Our legal purpose is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by making sure that doctors meet our standards for good medical practice.

We do that by controlling entry to the medical register and setting the standards for medical schools and postgraduate education and training. We also determine the principles and values that underpin good medical practice and we take action when those standards are not met.

We have strong and effective legal powers designed to maintain the standards that the public have a right to expect from doctors. We are not here to protect the medical profession – their interests are protected by others. Our job is to protect patients.

When any doctor fails to meet our standards, we will act to protect patients from harm – if necessary, we will remove the doctor from our register and remove their right to practise medicine.

Read more about how we protect patients and the public.

We’re independent and accountable

Patients’ interests are best served by independent, accountable regulation. We are therefore independent of the government and the NHS. We are independent of any other group or organisation and are publicly accountable for the outcome of our functions.

Independent, accountable regulation must:

  • put patient safety first
  • support good medical practice
  • promote fairness and equality and value diversity
  • respect the principles of good regulation: proportionality, accountability, consistency, transparency and targeting.

Our legal status

The General Medical Council (GMC) was established under the Medical Act 1858.

Over time, legislation has been introduced that defines our powers and responsibilities in the various areas of our work.

The GMC is a registered charity in England and Wales (1089278) and Scotland (SC037750).

Our governing body, the Council, has 12 members, of which six are doctors and six are lay members. The Council makes sure that we fulfil our charitable purposes and regulatory role.