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Revalidation process is unable to adequately assess GPs, MPs find

The revalidation process for GPs has come under fire from a group of influential MPs, which concluded responsible officers are unable to form the necessary professional relationship with the practitioners they are assessing.

The Commons health committee’s annual review of the GMC found that the ‘sheer number’ of GPs in the remit of each of the 27 responsible officers in England ‘precludes the type of professional relationship necessary to make informed decisions about the revalidation of an individual GP’.

The MPs found there was a ‘worrying approach to the oversight of revalidation’ which was both ‘dangerous and unprofessional’, raising concerns about the degree to which responsible officers would be held to account for their decisions on revalidation.

They also criticised the regulator for failing to communicate well with doctors when they are going through the fitness-to-practise panel procedure.

The report comes after Pulse reported that only one GP had been put into a remediation process by a responsible officer as a result of the revalidation process, causing GP leaders to question the value of the scheme.

The committee’s report highlighted concerns over fact that there are 27 responsible officers - one for each NHS England local area team - overseeing the revalidation of GPs in England.

Committee chair Stephen Dorrell MP said: ‘Just 27 responsible officers will be tasked with overseeing revalidation for approximately 45,000 GPs in England. The committee is concerned that, whatever the resources allocated to responsible officers, the sheer number of doctors they will be required to assess precludes the type of professional relationship necessary to make informed decisions about the revalidation of an individual GP.’

Mr Dorrell added: ‘The committee is concerned that there appears to vacuum of personal accountability in the process of revalidation. By definition a “responsible officer” should be held to account for the decision to revalidate an individual doctor, but the culture already appears to be developing that it is a “system responsibility” rather than the personal responsibility of the responsible officer.’

He warned that the development was ‘dangerous and unprofessional.’

The health committee report also concluded that there were failures to communicate the reasons for fitness-to-practise panel decisions and poor investigative practices have undermined a small number on investigations.

Last month Pulse revealed that each year the GMC is storing hundreds of secret complaints about GPs. These complaints are judged to be low-level and are therefore not acted on – but they are filed away for possible use in the event of a future investigation.

Readers' comments (10)

  • If only there was some yearly process by which doctors could be seen face-to-face by the person assessing them. Any ideas as to how we could implement this...?

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  • Appraisal is a pile of shite as well .

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  • A politically enforced measure considered inadequate by MPs.... perhaps we should have more assessment registration and regulation of the politicians. Why should we have to wait 5 years to flag our concerns about them and have them taken seriously?

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  • There are very few poor GPs but we usually know who they are. The problem is that if you report them to the GMC all that will happen is huge stress for the complainant, a bloated and inefficient investigation and then nothing at all and punishment for the complainant. It is the ones right on the edge of retirement that are the problem. Everyone thinks, oh well they are going to go soon so let it go...but then they just keep working and don't bloody well leave.

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  • It took them a lot of time to state the obvious but at least they got there in the end! Perhaps it is about time that the health committee looked at where the money for this has gone and reflected on some worrying behaviour demonstrated by the GMC over the last few years. By and large all the doctors I know are decent caring people with a high level of integrity. If we cannot trust each other then the NHS has a pretty serious problem on its hands. When occasionally things go wrong it seems far more appropriate to investigate them on a case by case basis than subjecting the entire medical profession to a level of scrutiny that even the most honest MP would struggle to pass.

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  • If nobody did it could they fire us all ?

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  • Dr Mustapha Tahir

    And so the right thing to do is to scrap it!

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  • Hear Hear Dr Tahir

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  • No s**t Sherlock!

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  • Vinci Ho

    See.This is cunning politics played by a veteran politician.
    According to his comment, system responsibility is not good enough and perhaps corrupt . First slap on the face.
    No personal responsibility and hence no scapegoat can be identified if some 'evil' doctor existed.Slap on the other side of the face.
    Agent Hunt broke the law by forcing the closure of Lewisham and he did not have any punishment . (Of course , the law is changed now , thanks to cunning politics again). So where is the individual responsibility or again it is another corrupt system responsibility to let him get away with murder(murdering the hospital)????
    As George Orwell said ,'...... a w***e is a w***e, always a w***e'.........

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