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Analysis: GMC has sat on the fence

The problem with revalidation is that you have to have your five approved appraisals, but what’s involved in that appraisal is up to the primary care organisation or the LAT.

Some said level 3 training and various bits of other training are compulsory, in other areas the guidance is more vague. The GMC have sat on the fence and have said it’s set locally. So it’s harder for doctors in some areas. There isn’t a level playing field. This is inequitable throughout the UK.

This meant it was left up to individual appraisal leads or responsible officers about what evidence they required for revalidation. In a lot of cases, that evidence wasn’t what GPs thought was required. The GPC, RCGP and COGPED statement clarified things on attending child safeguarding events. It was not hugely clear before that - there was some wooliness.

My own bugbear is that the PCT is insisting they receive electronic copies of portfolios containing documents GPs need to submit for appraisal. This isn’t in the national guidance - GPs could submit it in paper form if they wanted. The PCT and the responsible officers are just doing this for their own convenience, and it’s confusing lots of elderly doctors. Slow IT forms enhance the problem.

The process is still not equitable for all groups. We still haven’t really got it sorted out as far as sessional doctors and locums. They’ll find the audits and multi source feedback hard - they might not know who to go to. Prison service doctors might find getting multisource feedback and patient feedback a bit tricky. Not all appraisal leads seem quite as flexible as they appear about what can be submitted.

Revalidation has been on the cards for 15 years and these problems were supposed to be sorted out before it all began. But the GMC stuck to their original timescale of introducing it in 2012. Their attitude was ‘any problems with minority groups could be sorted out as it goes along’.

More information was needed - and this didn’t feel like a professional way of approaching process which could have a profound effect on many doctors’ careers.

Dr John Hughes is honorary secretary at Manchester LMC and a GP in Crumpsall, Manchester