The General Medical Council (GMC) is seeking reforms that will give it greater power to protect patients from dangerous and negligent practitioners.

The suggested reforms include allowing the GMC, the independent regulator for doctors, the right to appeal to the High Court over sanctions it considers to be too lenient.

They also ask for the ability to automatically ban doctors convicted of serious crimes, and to remove doctors who have been alleged of misconduct, from the register by mutual agreement.

These reforms would help to prevent dangerous or disgraced doctors, such as rogue breast surgeon Dr Ian Paterson, from getting away with lightweight punishments and even returning to practice.

The GMC’s suggestions come as part of a fundamental review of the laws governing healthcare regulation in the UK. They will be published by the Law Commission this week for Parliament’s consideration.

Linda Millband, a clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons, said: “These reforms would ensure that medical regulation has a much clearer focus on protecting patient safety than it does currently.

“The fact that Dr Paterson was able to continue to perform several hundred unsafe, and in some cases entirely unnecessary, breast surgeries and colonoscopy treatments even after concerns were raised about his behaviour, is truly shocking.

“We are currently working with more than 500 individuals who have been victims of his negligent practice, huge numbers of whom could have been protected from physical risk and emotional upheaval had the GMC been able to take swifter and stronger action.

“We look forward to hearing Parliament’s response to the suggestions and hope they see the need to give the regulator greater powers.”