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First GP is at risk of losing licence to practise through revalidation

Exclusive A first GP is at risk of losing their licence to practise for failing to engage with revalidation, the GMC has told Pulse, as official figures show one in ten GPs have had their revalidation date postponed.

The regulator said that five doctors overall, including the one GP, failed to engage with the revalidation process, and have been notified they are at risk of losing their licence. The GMC said it was unable to provide details about how the doctors failed to engage.

The GMC has also told Pulse that it recommended deferral for 754 of the 7,628 GPs (10%) appraised between 3 December 2012 and 28 August 2013, compared with 15% of all doctors.

A GMC protocol for responsible officers instructs them to make a recommendation that a doctor has failed to engage with revalidation if the doctor has not taken part in appraisal or other revalidation activities, and all reasonable local processes have been exhausted in attempts to rectify the doctor’s failure to engage.

It adds that if the GMC decides to begin the process of administratively removing a doctor’s licence to practise, they are informed and given 28 days to make representations to the GMC if they wish to appeal.

Doctors leaders called on the GMC to release details of why doctors had failed to engage with revalidation.

Dr Jane Lothian, chair of Northumberland LMC, said: ‘I’m in two minds. I’ve been through the process, and I was very apprehensive, but all I did was tick all the boxes I had to and I got my letter saying I’d been revalidated. It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought.

‘What I really think is important now is for us to find out all the details of why doctors were deferred, or failed to engage. Is it people who are failing on minor technicalities? They’ve got to tell us, so that LMCs can do their job and support doctors, that’s what we’re here for.’

The GMC also revealed that the total number of doctors whose revalidation date has been deferred has also shot up. In June, Pulse reported that 10% of the 8,724 doctors appraised between December 2012 and June 2013 had their revalidation deferred, including 351 GPs.

The latest figures show that the total number of doctors whose revalidation date has been deferred has shot up to 15%, while the number of GPs who have had their revalidation deferred is now 754 – 10% of the 7,628 GPs in total.

The regulator said that doctors in training make up almost half of all deferral recommendations as their revalidation date is postponed to coincide with the date of their Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT).

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘When revalidation was introduced doctors in training had their first revalidation date set at their projected Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) date. Since the start of revalidation many of these dates have changed, as expected, and their responsible officer has deferred them to the new anticipated date. Doctors in training represent 47% of the current deferrals of all doctors.’

GMC chief executive Mr Niall Dickson said added that it was is expected that revalidation will be deferred for a ‘small proportion’ of doctors.

He said: ‘We have now seen more than 16,500 doctors revalidated and every doctor in the UK with a licence to practise should now have a revalidation date. The system is up and running and the reports we are receiving indicate that it is working well at local level.

‘The vast majority of doctors put forward have successfully revalidated and, as expected, we have approved a small proportion for deferral. This usually means a six month delay or less.

‘The system is meant to be flexible so that if responsible officers need more time before making a recommendation they can apply to us for a deferral which enables the doctor to continue to practise in the meantime.’

The news comes as GPC leaders say they will still support the revalidation process, even amid concerns that NHS England might withdraw funding for remediation.