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Let's have the details on revalidation

Specific proposals are what GPs need, even if some of them cause a bit of a stir

By Richard Hoey

Specific proposals are what GPs need, even if some of them cause a bit of a stir

Being a Pulse journalist may not match up to the rigours of a Monday morning clinic after a bank holiday weekend, but it can still be pretty hard work at times.

So it's worth savouring the perks of the job, which for me means the times when I escape the grind of magazine production and get out and meet GPs.

Last week, the GP in question was Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Sessional GPs and a quite deliberately controversial figure – just last week in Pulse he launched a full-throttled assault on the BMA.

I suppose I expected a certain brashness, mixed perhaps with a degree of political calculation. What I found was nothing like that at all, but rather an enthusiast with a cause.

Dr Fieldhouse regards himself as a one-issue campaigner, and his issue – one he feels very passionately about – is the need for locums and salaried GPs to get the same rights as partners.

His particular bugbear at the moment is revalidation, its requirement for all sorts of information and feedback of the kind locums will struggle to get, and its lack of any funding mechanism to help them to get it.

He has a couple of potential solutions, which will be reported in Pulse this week. One of them would involve practices adopting a locum, a bit like a middle-class family sponsoring the education of a child in poorer parts of the world.

The second plan would involve funding for networks, or legal-style chambers, of locums, who would support and provide feedback on each other.

Now I can imagine both these plans might have their drawbacks. I suppose partners might not always be wild at having their adopted locum popping up in practice meetings, or hanging around the practice library. And as for networks, it sounds a straightforwardly good idea, but like many straightforwardly good ideas, there is a price tag attached.

But it came as a refreshing change to have a discussion about revalidation that actualy involved concrete proposals, rather than general – and I do mean general - principles.

Too often, guidance documents seem to be left deliberately vague, as if to avoid upsetting anyone, or because no one has found the time to think through the details.

I'd like a few more specifics among the proposals for revalidation, and, for that matter, in a host of other documents that are long on words and short on practical advice.

Even if, just occasionally, those specifics are deliberately controversial.

By Richard Hoey, Pulse editor

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