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GPs go forth

Doctors call on GMC to review retiral, revalidation and re-entry processes

Doctors have overwhelmingly called on the GMC to review its retiral, revalidation and re-entry processes.  

Delegates at the BMA's annual representatives meeting in Belfast last week heard that the rules around revalidation and appraisals for retired doctors still involved in clinical services deny the sector 'the good use of clinicians moving forward'.

Proposing the motion, semi-retired GP Dr Jonathan Jones from North West Wales explained that the GMC's processes put off many doctors from returning to the register, which contribute to the shortage of doctors working in both primary and secondary care.  

He said: 'There is a crisis in medical manpower, many vacant consultant posts often lapse because of no further advertising and insufficient applicants for the posts. GP practices are struggling, a retirement of a colleague is frequently very hard to replace, and the workload of remaining partners is increasing, becoming untenable. We have the pension scheme problems so those who would offer to help doing extra work decline to do so. While all this happens, patient demand increases.

'The number of medical school places has increased so the requirement for good-quality teaching keeps rising. Many doctors will choose to retire because of being burnt out by administrative processes. The solution is to having to report, after decades of clinical experience, to a recently-imposed manager, with a short amount of experience in their case. And if you come off the register it's an enormous amount and decline to try to get back on and obviously many don’t even try.

He added: 'Those who are no longer employed within the NHS have to find someone to undertake their revalidation at some great expense. And if retiring after a disagreement with an NHS manager a clinician would know they won't get a clean bill of health from the manager when they try to return [to] practice.

'The motion isn't telling the GMC what to do, it’s just asking to look at these processes and try to change them perhaps for the benefit of all. The appraisal revalidation system was set up to find the next Dr Shipment, but the reality is it's denying us the good of use clinicians moving forward.'

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘We want to make it as easy as possible for good doctors to re-join our register after they’ve taken a break from practice. We have reviewed our process previously, but as our current legislation is quite prescriptive we have not been able to make any major changes. We are continuing to push for legislative reform that would give us the flexibility we need to streamline and improve this and other processes, in the interests of doctors and patients.

‘In the meantime, we’re commissioning research to better understand the issues doctors face when they want to return to the register so that, working with stakeholders, we can provide as much support as we can within the current legislative constraints’.

The GMC previously said it intended to simplify revalidation in line with recommendations from the Pearson review, which had made a range of recommendations including on how to reduce the related workload.

This comes as GMC chief executive Charlie Massey claimed that the 'bulk of doctors' support having annual appraisals as part of the revalidation process as it leads to better patient care.


Motion by CARDIFF AND VALE OF GLAMORGAN DIVISION: That this meeting calls on the General Medical Council to change its retiral, revalidation and re-entry processes in order to retain senior members of the profession to contribute to clinical services, teaching and research.


Readers' comments (7)

  • GMC smoking some exotic pot again

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  • Looking at Charlie its not the pot that's the problem.

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  • When Dr Jones talks about experienced GPs finding it untenable to report to a non-clinical junior manager, I presume he is referring to GPs working for health boards in Wales where beleaguered partners handed back their contracts with the list then being passed over to the health board. This is a dreadful prospect. At least for partnerships, there is some autonomy. If GPs go the way of consultants in being placed under non-clinical managers, this ignominy means there will be very little to recommend the specialty at all.

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  • My last appraisal was such a pile of hassle to do, I decided to give up and retire, at 54 when my next appraisal is due in 3 Months time. The local appraisal team for NHS England lost no time in telling me i had to immediately fill in a form to take myself off the performers list on the expiry of my appraisal. Once I am off it, I know I would face a mountain of paperwork to be able to get back on it. Were it not for this I am sure I would come back and do a few sessions a week at least; but this option is not now there. What is the point of seeking foreign GP`s or other new GPs when the system actively promotes experienced GPs to leave. Once every 56 years perhaps would be more appropriate. Many more patients will die through not being able to see a GP because there are none left than because of another Shipman. ( who we all know would have sailed through) .

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  • Entirely correct, I walked away four years ago after 23 yrs of FT nine clinical session practice. I would be happy to return and do a couple of sessions but the hoops to jump through and paperwork involved is ridiculous. Shame really because the new GPs who are good don't have the massive experience I can offer.

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  • Same here,just left after 55th birthday and would probably retry clinical work in future if it wasn’t,for all these hoops to jump and the cost of them.

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  • Let me guess the GMC will come up with new standards and MORE work to show we are safe, MORE processes and hoops one has to jump through, MORE evidence and paperwork to be sumbitted under the presence of "protecting patients" when all it does is to reduce staffing and adding to existing staff stress.

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