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Doctors call on GMC to review retiral, revalidation and re-entry processes

Doctors have overwhelmingly called on the GMC to review its retiral, revalidation and re-entry processes.  

Delegates at the BMA’s annual representatives meeting in Belfast last week heard that the rules around revalidation and appraisals for retired doctors still involved in clinical services deny the sector ‘the good use of clinicians moving forward’.

Proposing the motion, semi-retired GP Dr Jonathan Jones from North West Wales explained that the GMC’s processes put off many doctors from returning to the register, which contribute to the shortage of doctors working in both primary and secondary care.  

He said: ‘There is a crisis in medical manpower, many vacant consultant posts often lapse because of no further advertising and insufficient applicants for the posts. GP practices are struggling, a retirement of a colleague is frequently very hard to replace, and the workload of remaining partners is increasing, becoming untenable. We have the pension scheme problems so those who would offer to help doing extra work decline to do so. While all this happens, patient demand increases.

‘The number of medical school places has increased so the requirement for good-quality teaching keeps rising. Many doctors will choose to retire because of being burnt out by administrative processes. The solution is to having to report, after decades of clinical experience, to a recently-imposed manager, with a short amount of experience in their case. And if you come off the register it’s an enormous amount and decline to try to get back on and obviously many don’t even try.

He added: ‘Those who are no longer employed within the NHS have to find someone to undertake their revalidation at some great expense. And if retiring after a disagreement with an NHS manager a clinician would know they won’t get a clean bill of health from the manager when they try to return [to] practice.

‘The motion isn’t telling the GMC what to do, it’s just asking to look at these processes and try to change them perhaps for the benefit of all. The appraisal revalidation system was set up to find the next Dr Shipment, but the reality is it’s denying us the good of use clinicians moving forward.’

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘We want to make it as easy as possible for good doctors to re-join our register after they’ve taken a break from practice. We have reviewed our process previously, but as our current legislation is quite prescriptive we have not been able to make any major changes. We are continuing to push for legislative reform that would give us the flexibility we need to streamline and improve this and other processes, in the interests of doctors and patients.

‘In the meantime, we’re commissioning research to better understand the issues doctors face when they want to return to the register so that, working with stakeholders, we can provide as much support as we can within the current legislative constraints’.

The GMC previously said it intended to simplify revalidation in line with recommendations from the Pearson review, which had made a range of recommendations including on how to reduce the related workload.

This comes as GMC chief executive Charlie Massey claimed that the ‘bulk of doctors’ support having annual appraisals as part of the revalidation process as it leads to better patient care.


Motion by CARDIFF AND VALE OF GLAMORGAN DIVISION: That this meeting calls on the General Medical Council to change its retiral, revalidation and re-entry processes in order to retain senior members of the profession to contribute to clinical services, teaching and research.