Qualifications of all doctors and surgeons registered to work in the UK were published on the internet for the first time on Monday to help patients and health authorities identify those practising illegally.

The General Medical Council has taken the step of releasing details of more than 200,000 doctors on its books in an attempt to boost public confidence in the abilities of GPs, surgeons and other doctors.

Its move came just days after a psychiatrist, Dr Subodoh Chakravarti, 68, was convicted of practising illegally. His name had been voluntarily taken off the medical register 13 months ago after complaints about his behaviour. Last week Dr Thomas Norton, a GP, was struck off the register after he had left three patients disfigured by cosmetic surgery for which he had received no formal training.

The website will be updated daily to take account of the record number of doctors being struck off the GMC's register for negligence or misconduct. It is expected that more than 100 will be struck off this year.

The number of complaints about doctors has increased by more than 300 per cent over the past five years and the GMC now receives more than 5,000 complaints a year.

Registration details of all doctors have already been put on the website ­ at www.gmc-uk.org ­ and details of their specialisms are expected to be included later this year.

A GMC spokesman said last night: "We are there to protect the public, and patients need to be aware of who is able to practise and what their specialisms are."

"The number of people practising without being registered is very, very small but we want to give patients and health authorities every opportunity to reassure themselves. We have had the register since 1858 and the GMC is very keen to see that it is seen to be accountable and transparent."

Previously the registers were published only annually and could be difficult for patients to access. Visitors using the new facilities on the website will be able to look up doctors by name or registration number, find out when they qualified and where they studied.

The GMC is responsible for licensing doctors to practise medicine anywhere in the UK, as well as protecting patients from poorly-performing professionals.