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GMC presses ahead with core elements of revalidation despite survey revealing major doubts

By Ian Quinn

The GMC plans to keep all the core elements of revalidation, despite admitting more than half of doctors and patient organisations are not convinced the profession can cope with the administrative burden heading its way.

The council unveiled results of nearly 1,000 consultation responses to its plans, and claimed majority support for each of the separate elements, including collection of CPD points and more controversial proposals for 360-degree feedback from colleagues and surveys of patients about individual doctors.

GMC chair Sir Peter Rubin said the council saw no need to drop any of the main elements, and though he confirmed plans revealed by Pulse to streamline the proposals, he claimed they would only need to be ‘refined'.

The news will come as a blow to the scheme's critics, and dash hopes that controversial elements such as colleague surveys might be dropped, not least for lack of a validated feedback tool.

The consultation results were revealed as the Department of Health pledged its commitment to revalidation across the UK, with a joint statement from the GMC and the four administrations pledging commitment to introducing revalidation, and to having all systems ready by summer 2012.

Earlier this month the RCGP, which will work with the GMC on plans to scale back revalidation, admitted the scheme was now unlikely to start until 2013 and that the Government had considered scrapping it altogether.

Professor Rubin said: ‘There is no overriding message that we need to discard the main features of the proposed model for revalidation. ‘It is clear further work is required to refine a number of the proposals, so we can deliver a model that is proportionate and has the confidence of the profession.'

The GMC said it could not provide Pulse with a breakdown of responses from doctors, which it is thought would have shown much greater opposition than the report recorded overall.

But even the figures it has produced, which include responses from everyone from royal colleges helping draw up the plans to patient groups, show doubts over potential bureaucracy. Asked if it was practical for doctors to amass the required information, 46% said yes, but 24% said no and 30% were unsure.

The report said patient and colleague feedback was a key area of concern, with some respondents questioning the value of patient feedback and fearing doctors could face ‘malicious' claims from colleagues.

‘Concerns about conflicts of interest were also raised; respondents felt particular relationships meant feedback could not be objective.'

The GMC has previously indicated the amount of multi-source feedback required from colleagues may be halved, but appears to have no plans to drop it altogether.

Niall Dickson, GMC Chief Executive said the Government's backing for revalidation was ‘very significant'.

He added: ‘We are now moving into the implementation phase and the commitment of the administrations in every part of the UK to drive this forward is critical. We will continue to listen and learn from individual doctors and from the piloting to make sure we have a system that is robust but also straightforward and cost-effective."

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘I would like to thank the GMC for the work they have done to address the issues raised following their consultation. The extra time for piloting will make sure we can test and streamline the system and get it right.'

GMC chair Sir Peter Rubin

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