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Revalidation as good a measure as driving test

The oft-quoted comparison between GPs and airline pilots is overplayed.

I don't want to demean what is a responsible occupation, but essentially pilots are high-flying bus drivers. Much of their work can and is done by computers. They have protected rest periods and limited workload.

The scenarios on which pilots are assessed involve emergencies and keeping their craft in the air until such time as it can land. They would refuse to take responsibility for time-expired, overloaded aircraft with multiple faults, any one of which could cause a system failure. And pilots are firm in the limitations of their remit, which does not include adjusting their actions to accommodate any deficiencies in their passengers.

Emergency care is one facet of medicine, but a minor, though important part of primary care. Much of the rest requires a broad knowledge and understanding of medicine, an inquisitive mind, and the ability to communicate, examine, extract a history, and test and treat a hypothesised diagnosis from a jumble of symptoms. Familiarity facilitates this. The minutiae and facts beloved of examinations, and multiple-choice questions in particular, are largely irrelevant as these can be checked from literature and by computer if GPs honestly know and respect their own limitations.

Those enamoured of evidence and assessment might like to consider who, on an enforced motoring holiday, they would rather be driven by someone who passed their test 30 years ago and has not undergone any structured tuition since, but who has driven 15,000 miles per year without any major accidents or convictions, or a young enthusiastic 17-year-old who has just been trained and passed their test?

My concern with revalidation is the expense and time consumed in documenting the process, which I fear by its very nature detracts from the purpose of stimulating purposeful study.

From Dr Robert Blundell, Hawkhurst, Kent

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