The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has announced that medical revalidation, the process by which all doctors licensed to practise by the General Medical Council (GMC) will demonstrate that they are up to date and fit to practise, will commence in December 2012.
Doctors will continue to undergo annual appraisals but will, additionally, be revalidated every five years. Responsible Officers, appointed by designated bodies, will review the evidence from those appraisals (including any significant events, examples of quality improvement activity and feedback from patients and colleagues) in order to make a recommendation to the GMC about the doctor’s continuing fitness to practise. The GMC will then make a decision on the renewal of the doctor’s licence to practise.
The scheme has not been without its opponents and the road to revalidation has been anything but smooth. Concerns over who will bear the financial brunt of getting poor performers back on track were only put to bed to the British Medical Council’s satisfaction when the NHS Commissioning Board committed to supporting GPs who needed to take time out of work to complete retraining and said that commissioners would fund remedial placements and assessments for GPs. Many in management tiers, however, remain sceptical that remediation will root out and deal with that small but worrying percentage of deficient doctors who refuse to co-operate with existing systems.