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Responsible officers ‘will work from local branches of NHS Commissioning Board’

Responsible officers in charge of GP revalidation are likely to based inthe 50 local offices of the NHS Commissioning Board, but the Department of Health says it does not expect any reduction in their numbers.

The DH announced last summer that the responsible officers will be hosted by the NHS Commissioning Board, and is about to launch a consultation on where they will sit within the board’s structure.

Pulse has learned that they are most likely to based in local offices of the board which will number around 50 – a similar number to current PCT clusters – prompting warnings from leading GPs that more than one in each office will be required to undertake the work in some regions.

Responsible officers appraise fellow doctors and make recommendations to the GMC on whether GPs in their area are fit to be revalidated, but Pulse revealed in January that GPs in parts of England will be revalidated by responsible officers who are not practising GPs.

Data obtained from 57 PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act revealed responsible officer positions in three PCTs are held by non-GPs, including public health consultants and paediatricians, while a further five posts are filled by non-practising GPs.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs said that his understanding was that while there would nominally be one responsible officer per local office, but the total number of staff involved would have to be much more than 50.

‘I think the responsible officer role would probably be filled by more than one person depending on the workload,’ he told Pulse.

A DH spokesman told Pulse that while the consultation could conceivably lead to a reduction in current numbers of responsible officers, ‘current thinking’was that the numbers would remain similar.