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Revalidation ‘settling well’ but GMC urged to cut burden on doctors

Sir Keith Pearson, chair of the General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) Revalidation Advisory Board, has completed his review of the revalidation process, concluding that it has already delivered significant benefits and does not need a “major overhaul”.

Revalidation, which was introduced in 2012 and requires doctors to be formally assessed at regular intervals in order for them to continue practising, has “settled well and is progressing as expected”, according to the review ‘Taking Revalidation Forward’.

However, Sir Keith has stressed that as a new process, revalidation must be further tweaked in order to be more effective in the long term.

“My overall conclusion is that revalidation has settled well and is progressing as expected. For that, huge credit must go to the medical profession and those leading revalidation, both locally and nationally,” Sir Keith wrote in the executive summary of the review.

“Revalidation is still a new process; it is important that we learn from the first cycle to make it more effective in the next.”

Sir Keith highlighted grumbles by doctors that the need to revalidate their license to practice was “unnecessarily burdensome” or found that annual appraisal was of no benefit to them, while also raising concerns that the revalidation process can still be lax for doctors working outside of “managed environments”.

However, he found that revalidation’s embedding of annual appraisals is driving changes in general practice by tightening clinical governance and helping healthcare managers to identify and support poorly performing doctors.

Over time, Sir Keith expressed his confidence that revalidation will “lead to better and safer care for patients” once there is more public awareness of the process.

Chief executive of the GMC Charlie Massey acknowledged the positivity of the review, but stressed that revalidation must be made as efficient as possible to maximise its impact.

“It is reassuring to hear that revalidation is settling in and beginning to impact on clinical practice, professional behaviour and patient safety,” Massey said. “But it is still relatively new, and we acknowledge the difficulties and challenges identified by Sir Keith in his report.

“Revalidation has embedded the system of annual appraisals for doctors, and is integral to assuring patients that a doctor’s fitness to practise is checked regularly, but it is important that we learn and improve the process so all doctors find it a positive experience.”

The GMC accepted the recommendation that more should be done to raise the profile and understanding of revalidation both among the public and doctors after Sir Keith raised concerns that some clinicians were being asked to provide evidence of their work beyond GMC guidance.

The disciplinary body has agreed to work with royal colleges and employers so that healthcare organisations are “clear on what is, and what is not, necessary for revalidation”.

Professor Derek Bell, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE), also welcomed the report, calling it a “fair and balanced evaluation” of revalidation’s progress.

“We look forward to working with the GMC and other partner agencies to implement Sir Keith’s recommendations and will continue to provide revalidation support to our members and Fellows,” Prof Bell said.

Revalidation was extended to nurses and midwives in 2015 with all 685,000 nurses and midwives on the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register expected to go through the process by the end of 2018 as their registration becomes due for renewal.

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Sue   17/01/2017 at 12:23

Why are Drs complaining about revalidation? It's true that the NMC brought in a changed revalidation for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting in 2015, but in fact the profession have had it since 1995 when it was brought in by the UKCC and known as PREP!! These systems have been brought in to ensure professionals keep up to date and to protect the public!!

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