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GPs require feedback from 50 people for revalidation, GMC study claims

GPs will require questionnaire responses from at least 50 patients and colleagues as part of the 360-degree feedback required by revalidation, claims a GMC-commissioned study.

The five-year study found doctors would need 34 patients and at least 15 colleagues to complete questionnaires to have ‘reliable’ information on their performance.

The study was commissioned by the GMC from the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter and Plymouth to investigate the use of multi-source feedback in revalidation.

They found questionnaires developed by the GMC were a ‘good basis’ to collect feedback and guide continuing professional development for doctors.

The questionnaires ask colleagues to rate doctors on their record-keeping and whether they are honest and trustworthy, and patients whether they think their doctor is polite and makes them feel at ease. There is also a self-assessment questionnaire.

The research team has worked with about 1,450 doctors and received commentary on those doctors’ performance from around 70,000 patients.

They found that some doctors are more likely to receive favourable feedback than others simply because of the part of the country where they completed medical training, or the characteristics of the patients or colleagues providing feedback.

Guidance published by the GMC today on revalidation has included the findings from this study. The guidance will assist appraisers to interpret the results in a constructive way and understand the questionnaires should not be used in isolation to make decisions about a doctor’s fitness to practise.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘For the vast majority of doctors, the feedback they receive will be overwhelmingly positive but there will also be things they can learn, and insights they can gain about their practice. When revalidation comes in, we will be the first nation in the world to require every doctor to obtain feedback from their patients and colleagues in this way.’

‘The questionnaires we’re publishing today are free for employers and doctors to use. They’ve been extensively tested, and if administered properly, should enable doctors to understand how their practice is viewed by those they treat and those they work with.’

‘We regard this as the start of a process – medical practice relies on trust between doctors and their patients, and between healthcare professionals – their views matter and I am sure that over time more ways will be found to gather them.’