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GMC could withdraw GPs’ licence to practise if they fail to engage with revalidation

GPs that do not engage with revalidation could lose their licence to practise, according to new GMC guidance for responsible officers.

The guidance, Making revalidation recommendations: the GMC responsible officer protocol, advises responsible officers who deem that GPs have not engaged with revalidation despite being provided with sufficient opportunity and support to do so to take all ‘reasonable local processes' to attempt to rectify the doctors' failure to engage.

But if these processes have been exhausted, responsible officers are advised to issue a notification of non-engagement to the GMC, which, it says ‘can potentially result in the GMC withdrawing a doctor's licence to practise through the existing processes for administrative removal'.

In cases where notifications of non-engagement are received, the GMC would begin the administrative process of removing the doctor's licence to practise. The GP would be informed and given 28 days in which to make representations to the GMC if they wish to appeal.

But the protocol adds: ‘Notifications of non-engagement are not a mechanism through which concerns about doctors' fitness to practise can be raised with the GMC.

‘If you become aware of concerns about a doctor's fitness to practise at any point in the revalidation cycle, these should be referred to the GMC through the existing processes for raising concerns.'

The recommendation of non-engagement is one of three that the responsible officer can make to the GMC.

The others are a positive recommendation that the GP is up to date and fit to practise, or a request to defer the date of a recommendation.

A positive recommendation can be made if the GP has met the criteria for revalidation by providing the required supporting information, which includes qualifications and feedback from all employers, and has participated in all aspects of the process including appraisals.

A deferral request, which delays the date a revalidation recommendation is made, can be issued if the GP has engaged with revalidation but has not been able to gather all the required supporting information by the time of the submission date.

Examples of this might include if the GP has been on sabbatical, sick or maternity leave or has spent long periods practising outside the UK.

A deferral request should also be made if the GP is currently in the middle of disciplinary processes or investigation, and the responsible officer will need to wait for the result in order to make a recommendation.

The GMC will make the final decision about the doctor's revalidation based on the responsible officer's recommendation, which cannot be withdrawn by the responsible officer once it has been submitted.