The GMC has launched a major new drive to connect doctors to their responsible officers ahead of revalidation after it revealed that more than 50,000 doctors, including 9,000 GPs, have yet to be matched up to their designated organisation.
The regulator said there were currently around 54,000 doctors – including around 16,000 doctors with non-UK registered addresses and many locums – they did not hold information on, but that they would be contacting them as part of a catch-up campaign launched this week.
The GMC insisted the drive, which will run from 18 April until the end of the year, would not delay the introduction of revalidation next year, and that they had made ‘remarkable progress’ in preparing for revalidation.
The move comes after BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum wrote to the DH and questioned whether the revalidation could go ahead this year in the wake of deficiencies in clinical governance, delays in assigning responsible officers and unanswered questions over funding for remediation.
Every GP in the UK has to connect with a designated body ahead of the introduction of revalidation at the end of this year, with responsible officers tasked with making a recommendation to the GMC on behalf of their organisation on whether to revalidate individual GPs.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said the Making Connections campaign would not hold up revalidation, because not all 225,000 doctors needed to be revalidated straightaway
He said: ‘Throughout the UK there has been remarkable progress in improving clinical governance, in access to appraisals, throughout the country. It’s very important that we maintain this momentum.’
‘I suspect in some ways it’s a question of “how ready is ready?” The Government will need a certain level of confidence, but it doesn’t mean that absolutely every single thing is in place, or every single doctor is able to revalidate within the first month of 2013.’
Mr Dickson said the GMC was trying to understand the mismatch between the reports it was receiving from the revalidation delivery boards and the fears being expressed by the BMA.
‘There may be a slight mismatch there. It is quite understandable that representative organisations have a level of anxiety about something that’s new and what impact it might have, and concern if they can’t access information.’
Professor Peter Rubin, GMC chair, said: ‘The information we’re getting from the delivery boards is a good deal more positive than some of the concerns expressed. We need to understand why there is this difference.
‘We have all the information we need on shedloads of doctors already. So given that in the first full year, 2013/14, we would aspire to revalidate maybe 50,000 doctors across the UK, then we are in a very good place to start to get the ball rolling. We have never intended this to be a big bang.’