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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Knowledge test a folly

In leaving it to the RCGP to decide whether or not knowledge tests should be part of a new system of revalidation, the Chief Medical Officer has pulled a political masterstroke.

Whether or not such tests are imposed is now a matter for the profession, and any rows about it will be contained within the GP community.

And as the RCGP appears to have decided there will be a knowledge test, a row is inevitable.

Because whatever the type of

test or its merits, it is wrong in principle that GPs should have to undergo a periodic examination of their knowledge to be able to continue practising.

No other professional has to jump through such hoops just to keep their job. Barristers do not need to prove they know every aspect of criminal law. All that matters is that they can practise it.

No true guide

So it should be with GPs. A multiple choice test is no true guide to a GP's ability to practise medicine.

As every GP knows, it is impossible to hold all of the knowledge required for the job at the tips of your fingers.

The most important thing is to understand the limits of your knowledge and where to get

the information to bridge those gaps.

The RCGP already has a big job to win over thousands of GPs who will now have to become members or affiliates of the college in order to be recertified. It will not help its cause if it imposes a knowledge test.

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