UK Doctors To Have Regular Revalidation Assessments

Jeremy Hunt announced today that UK doctors are to become the first in the world to have to take regular assessments to ensure they are fit for practise.

The procedure, known as revalidation, will mean that British doctors will have regular assessments to confirm that their training and expertise are up to date, and that they are fit to carry out their roles.  The General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates UK physicians, will work alongside employers to implement and manage the new system.

Revalidation has its origins from public concern over scandals such as the deaths of the Bristol babies and the botched surgery of gynaecologist Rodney Ledward.  Discussions around revalidation have been on-going for years and have created predictable controversy amongst doctors, but the UK government is now ready to start the process in December.

The Department of Health noted that this will be significant in creating improvements in the prompt diagnosis and survival from diseases such as cancer, and better care of patients with conditions such as dementia, which is still poorly diagnosed.  The revalidation will also help guarantee that doctors are better equipped to help people with long-term conditions manage their health better, the department added.

Revalidation will also require doctors to confront any concerns with skills like communication and maintaining trust with patients, which is especially important when caring for the growing number of older patients.

If doctors do not meet these criteria, they could (in extreme circumstances) have their licenses withdrawn.

As the start date was announced, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, noted that it is a “historic moment … the biggest change in medical regulation for more than 150 years.”

First to be revalidated in December will be medical leaders.  As of next April, all doctors will be in the process.

Jeremy Hunt commented that “we want to have the best survival rates in Europe for the major killer diseases.  Doctors save lives every day and making sure they are up to speed with the latest treatments and technologies will help them save even more.  This is why a proper system of revalidation is so important.”

“The government is also proposing that in future, there is one national list of general practice doctors, dentists and ophthalmologists approved to provide NHS primary care services,” Hunt noted.  “By introducing a single national performers list, poor performers will no longer be able to slip through the gaps between different local lists,” he added.

Currently, each of the 151 Primary Care Trusts keep separate local lists of clinicians, which means if a poorly performing doctor is removed from one list, they can move to a new trust area and keep practicing.

Hunt noted that having a national list will ensure patients are “better protected from the small minority of doctors, dentists and ophthalmologists who fall short of the standards expected of them.”

Medical revalidation will typically happen every five years and will apply to every doctor in all settings in the UK, including doctors working as locums and in the private sector.  Doctors will undertake yearly appraisals based on the requirements of the General Medical Council’s core guidance, titled ‘Good Medical Practice’.


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