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Revalidation on track to cover almost all doctors

Programme’s high uptake linked to improved rates of appraisal and high patient involvement

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 09 December 2015

The General Medical Council has welcomed figures showing that its revalidation programme is on track, with most doctors expected to have been revalidated by next April. It also reported that most employers have been ‘extremely positive’ in supporting revalidation.

Medical revalidation in the UK – described by the GMC as “an important contributor to patient safety and the biggest shake-up in medical regulations since the organisation was founded 150 years ago”– started in December 2012, requiring all doctors who wish to hold a licence to practice to take part, and giving all organisations that provide healthcare the legal responsibility to support their doctors throughout the process.

The GMC said this morning that since the revalidation programme began three years ago, it has already revalidated more than 133,000 licensed doctors across the UK. It said that based on those figures, it predicted that this number will have reached 150,000 – the ‘vast majority’ – by April 2016.

GMC chair Terence Stephenson said: “It must be right that we have a revalidation system in which every doctor has to demonstrate they are competent and up to date.

“However this has only come about because doctors have engaged so well with their appraisals and Responsible Officers have worked so hard to get to grips with their responsibilities.

“A whole new system of support, oversight and assurance has been put in place – the number of doctors receiving appraisals is one sign that organisations are taking clinical governance more seriously.”

The GMC reported that Responsible Officers have given the scheme their full support, remarking that it is central to their efforts to improve the safety of patients and the standards of care; nearly 40% of employers in England said revalidation had helped them identify concerns about doctors at an earlier stage. The GMC also estimated that more than two million patients have contributed to the revalidation process by giving feedback on their treatment and care.

The GMC added that, over the period since before the introduction of revalidation there has been a marked increase in the proportion of doctors having completed appraisals, with GPs particularly well covered. A recent review of appraisal systems by NHS England found that in 2014-15, appraisals had been completed by:

  • 93.2% of GPs (compared with 79% in a similar audit four years before)
  • 87.3% of hospital consultants (compared with 54.1% four years before)
  • 83.9% of staff grade, associate and specialty doctors (up from 36.6%).

NHS England’s national medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh commented: “The smooth implementation of medical revalidation is a success story. Two-and-half-years into the first cycle of revalidation we are starting to see concrete examples of the benefits that revalidation, and particularly improved rates of appraisal, bring to clinical services.

“That’s where we need to go next – from just compliance with the legal framework to really embracing it as a key lever to improve the quality of healthcare for our patients.”

Terence Stephenson added: “As we start to think about how we can develop the model, we need to gather evidence of what works and what could be better. We also need to be careful not to place additional requirements on doctors who are already under considerable pressure.”

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