The BMA will continue to support revalidation even if NHS England withdraws funding for remediation, GP leaders have told Pulse.
The association said in September last year that it would support the process on the condition that remediation was funded, but GP leaders have confirmed they will not withdraw support for the controversial scheme despite suggestions from health managers that the funding for remediation is not guaranteed after April 2014.
The current arrangements, detailed in NHS England’s FAQ document on revalidation published at the end of June, are that until a permanent decision on funding is made, funding for remediation should be split between the individual doctor and the local area team, with the LAT’s contribution capped at £10,000.
Following the guidance, BMA chair Dr Mark Porter wrote to NHS England expressing disappointment at the split funding, and seeking reassurances that remediation would be fully funded and that decisions on appraisals and funding would lie with commissioners.
He said: ‘I do not believe that a split funding arrangement, as outlined in your recently published FAQ document, is appropriate in light of the commitment that I received in September.’
He added: ‘The BMA was … able to support implementation of the [revalidation] process only after I received a commitment that the NHS Commissioning Board [subsequently renamed NHS England] would provide funding, along with confirmation that the responsibility for funding remedial placements and assessments for GPs would rest with commissioners.’
But NHS England’s deputy medical director Dr Mike Bewick said there was no guarantee that even this split funding will continue post 2014 and there will be discussions on this matter.
He said: ‘There was agreement between the BMA and NHS England on the transition arrangements up to 2014/15 to provide support for remediation for GPs. Further discussion will follow on future arrangements for remediation at regular meetings with the BMA.’
Despite this, GP leaders said they would not withdraw their support for revalidation should NHS England rule that remedial placements would not be funded.
GPC negotiator Dr Dean Marshall said the BMA would oppose this individual decision, but not the entire process of revalidation which is overseen by the GMC.
He said: ‘Revalidation is with us now and is happening. NHS England’s position, it’s incredibly unhelpful.
‘Prior to the introduction of revalidation, the BMA drew a series of eight lines in the sand and that was the final one. We were given a commitment that remediation would be funded and that didn’t have any time commitment.
‘If things change then that’s going to cause serious problems. The GMC is responsible for revalidation, not NHS England, so we’re not going to come out against the process of revalidation. But we will oppose the change from NHS England, and we will be hopeful the GMC would be supportive of our position.’
GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash also stressed that the GPC would oppose any decision to remove funding. She said: ‘It causes a lot of stress for GPs. They don’t get paid time off, they have to worry about paying for their absence. This is not something the negotiating team will let rest.’
She added that until NHS England made a decision about funding arrangements, the BMA could not say whether it would withdraw its support for the current revalidation implementation timetable.
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said he hoped the situation would not get to the stage where the BMA would withdraw support for the timetable for revalidation’s rollout, because the negotiators would argue in favour of funding.
He called for the issue to be resolved urgently: ‘The agreement was that there would be funding in place. It’s urgent it gets resolved immediately. It’s in everyone’s interest that doctors are able to get back to caring for patients. It’s urgent we secure that support for those doctors that need additional support to do that.’