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‘Very small number’ of GPs will need remediation, says Commissioning Board

The NHS Commissioning Board has revealed it expects only 'a very small number' of GPs to require remediation away from their practice as part of the revalidation process.

Last week's landmark agreement by the Government that the board would fund additional training for GPs who require it prompted the BMA to formally back the GMC's timetable to begin revalidation from December, after resolving one of its biggest concerns.

But despite the agreement in England, governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to guarantee they will fund the process, with the BMA urging ministers in the devolved nations to follow suit as soon as possible.

Despite the breakthrough, GP leaders said there remained ‘hurdles' to overcome, including how much funding would be available, and how it would be paid to GPs who need it. 

In England, the NHS Commissioning Board has established a remediation working group, chaired by medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, to explore the details.

Other outstanding issues include ensuring locum GPs can gain sufficient evidence for revalidation, with particular concern over how they will collect 360-degree feedback from colleagues and patients.

But the BMA said some issues would have to be ironed out as the process was being rolled out.

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said: ‘This does not mean that revalidation is currently in a perfect state. There will be problems on the way, which will be sorted out by practical people who are determined to implement something we all recognise is a good principle.'

In 2009, Pulse revealed LMCs had been told to expect anywhere between 5% and 14% of all GPs to fail at least one element of revalidation.

But a spokesperson for the NHS Commissioning Board Authority said it was unlikely that substantial numbers would require remediation: ‘We recognise that, in the very small number of cases where a GP requires remediation and supervision away from their practice, there will be some circumstances in which funding is needed for backfill.'

They added that the working group would determine ‘how GPs may access funding to assist with the costs of remediation'.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘One of our key concerns was that GPs were being penalised by being taken out of practice. So we had to get this sorted out. It has been difficult but I'm now pleased to say the placement, and the backfilled cost of doctors to be taken out of practice, will be funded. There's a set of hurdles to go through and we are going to have to discuss this at length with the NHS Commissioning Board.'

Dr David Bailey, chair of GPC Wales, urged devolved governments to follow suit as quickly as possible: ‘I have been in contact with the deputy chief medical officer for Wales to seek clarity and I know my Scottish counterpart has done the same. The BMA would expect it to be mirrored in all four countries.'