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BMA warns revalidation faces fresh delay amid ‘worrying’ lack of progress

Deficiencies in clinical governance, delays in assigning responsible officers and unanswered questions over funding for remediation make it almost inevitable that the start of revalidation will be delayed beyond this year, the BMA has warned.

In letters to the Department of Health and the GMC last week, BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum and Scottish BMA chair Dr Brian Keighley complained of a ‘worrying lack of progress in several key areas’ and questioned whether the current timetable, which would see GPs begin revalidation by the end of 2012, could still be met.

The warning comes as the Government collates its next set of organisational readiness self-assessments, which require trusts to submit details of how prepared they are for revalidation. The assessments are due to conclude in mid-May, with early results presented to the DH shortly afterwards.

A DH spokesperson said it was ‘too early to give feedback’ from the latest round of assessments. But in his letter to the DH, Dr Meldrum claimed they showed many employers’ clinical governance systems were ‘still not sufficiently developed to support revalidation’.

He also warned a ‘significant number’ of GPs did not yet have a responsible officer, raised concerns about the validity of multi-source feedback questionnaires which had been challenged because they did not reflect GMC guidance, and said questions over the revalidation of locums and the funding of the process remained unresolved.

‘The lack of progress leads us to question whether the timetable can be met,’ he said.

Questions also remain over the RCGP’s revalidation guidance, after the college was last September forced to remove all references to the supporting information GPs will initially need to supply because of continuing ‘uncertainty’ over how the system will be implemented.

The RCGP said this week a new version of the guidance was tentatively expected next month.

Professor Mike Pringle, RCGP clinical lead for revalidation, said he still believed revalidation would go ahead this year.

‘Dr Meldrum has raised some important issues, but I think the DH should be able to resolve most of them,’ he said.

‘Nothing is certain, but our understanding is that Andrew Lansley will make a decision later in the summer and he will say revalidation will go ahead.’

But Dr Suraj Sharma, a GP in Liverpool, said: ‘It is too early to implement revalidation – there are a lot of things that need sorting out. At the moment things are not settled at all. Commissioning groups are in disarray.’

The long road to revalidation

  • Revalidation first discussed following the Bristol Heart Inquiry
  • Shipman Inquiry fifth report criticises model for revalidation, which is subsequently put on hold by GMC
  • CMO report proposes changes to model to focus on relicensing and specialist recertification
  • Revalidation due to begin, subject to secretary of state’s assessment of readiness