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GMC admits 'work to be done' on revalidation

Exclusive The GMC admits that there is ‘a lot of work to be done' to get revalidation ready for 2012, but has dismissed claims it is failing to prepare doctors for the process.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said addressing GP fears over the workload demands and ‘clunky' IT systems used in past revalidation pilots, will be key to winning doctors' backing for revalidation. Click here to watch the full interview.

However, Mr Dickson dismissed claims, made by the House of Commons Health Committee last week, that the GMC's leadership role in preparing GPs for the move is ‘underdeveloped'.

He said: ‘I think there is still quite a lot of work to be done [to get revalidation ready] within the health service, particularly in England.'

‘We're not trying to sell a good news story here. We are trying to learn from the pilots so that when we launch revalidation next year it is in a state that doctors aren't going to find they are spending too much time on it.' 

‘I don't think [our role] is underdeveloped in revalidation. I don't think anybody in the medical profession would accuse the GMC of sitting back and doing nothing on revalidation in recent years. We have driven this hard and we have made considerable progress.'

An independent evaluation of NHS revalidation pilots, published last month, found that GPs involved saw a 50% increase in hours spent on appraisals and said the new system did not help them improve the care of their patients. The report followed a Pulse investigation revealing that some GPs involved in the pilots found the process had caused them as much as 40 hours of workload, with complaints centred around the online revalidation toolkit used in the pilot.

Asked about the pilots, Mr Dickson said that the GMC ‘absolutely' understood doctors' concerns over revalidation. He said the GMC has ‘learnt' from the pilot findings, particularly the flaws in the IT toolkit that was used,. and sought to reassure GPs that ‘there are IT systems around which can be used and do deliver' on revalidation, and pointed to Wales where ‘90% of GPs have a robust IT system for appraisal.'

‘The pilots were designed to test something out. The IT system, which was only designed for the test, was pretty clunky. We have streamlined the process. Revalidation is now an easier thing to do than it was under the pilot. We think it will be less time consuming for doctors while still being robust.'

'Once it becomes a routine part of your work, once you have a less clunky IT system, once you have better data, these things will add value to individual doctors,' he said.

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