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BMA: ‘Doctors cannot support revalidation plans’

By Gareth Iacobucci

The BMA has issued a stinging rebuke to the GMC's plans for revalidation, and said it cannot support the rollout in its current form.

In a detailed response to the GMC's consultation on revalidation, the BMA said the process has been ‘seriously undermined' by a lack of clarity on key sticking points, and urged the GMC to ‘go back to the drawing board' on its proposals.

The intervention casts huge doubt on the current timetable for implementation, which had been expected to begin from 2011, and comes after Pulse first revealed last week that the BMA and the GMC were at loggerheads over how the rollout should occur.

Among the BMA's key concerns are fears that specialist standards to recertify doctors set by the Royal Colleges - including the RCGP - are ‘far too complex' and need to be ‘simplified and made more realistic' to minimise the bureaucratic burden on GPs.

It also called for urgent clarification on how much revalidation will cost, and said the lack of mention of finance in the consultation ‘severely undermines the case for successful implementation'.

Plans for representatives from the Royal Colleges to sit on revalidation panels overseeing colleagues and peers were also criticised as ‘a conflict of interest'.

The response warns that locums would be ‘severely disadvantaged' under the current plans, and that the proposed involvement of multi-sourced feedback was ‘compromised by a lack of available tools'.

And as Pulse reported last week, the BMA is at odds with the GMC over which areas should be first to rollout revalidation, with the BMA believing the process should only be implemented once workable proposals have been developed for all doctors, and when all pilots have concluded and been fully evaluated.

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘While the BMA agrees with the principle of revalidation we believe the process is seriously undermined by a number of factors that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.'

‘The BMA will resist any proposals that are overly bureaucratic and cumbersome and that ultimately will take doctors away from treating patients. It is essential that any system we have in place is fair for all doctors across the board.'

‘With the NHS facing cuts, this is not the time to spend invaluable resources on forcing doctors to dedicate time to box-ticking and form-filling exercises.'

Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive, insisted that there was ‘a shared commitment that revalidation should not be overly burdensome or bureaucratic'.

He said: ‘We have made it clear that there are issues that need to be dealt with and more work to develop the approach – we have also made it clear that revalidation will only be introduced when all the systems are in place to ensure it works well for everyone.'

‘We have consistently said that we are in listening mode. All of the feedback we have received, including the BMA's, will help us to create a system that is flexible and proportionate and meets the needs of the profession, patients and the public.'

Dr Hamish Meldrum: 'The BMA will resist any proposals that are overly bureaucratic and cumbersome' Dr Hamish Meldrum: 'The BMA will resist any proposals that are overly bureaucratic and cumbersome'