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GMC pledges to simplify revalidation and reduce doctor workload

The GMC has said it will push ahead with implementing changes to revalidation, in line with recommendations published earlier this year.

The review, led by revalidation programme board chair Sir Keith Pearson, made a range of recommendations including on how to reduce the related workload.

One suggestion had including pre-populating revalidation feedback by allowing this to be collected from patients after every doctor interaction.

Sir Keith had also recommended revalidation would be renamed ‘relicensing’, as this would be more meaningful to patients; tracking impact of revalidation; making sure managers were not using revalidation to push local performance targets; and looking closer at responsible officer conflicts of interest.

In response, the GMC said it will consult doctors and patients to ‘identify how to make the patient feedback process easier and more valuable’, by March next year.

By the same deadline, the GMC said it will:

  • provide doctors and responsible officers with ‘clearer guidance’ on what is required of them for revalidation;
  • offer ‘more specific advice’ on how doctors should gather colleague feedback, including how to select the colleagues; and
  • improve the revalidation process for doctors working across different settings, including the NHS and private practice, so that it ‘covers a doctor’s whole scope of practice’.

It also said it would come up with a simpler explanation of revalidation to patients and develop a ‘proportionate way’ to monitor revalidation to ensure it does what it is supposed to do.

The medical royal colleges will also be updating their revalidation guidance to clarify the GMC’s requirements as well as their own recommendations, the GMC added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health will review rules for who should revalidate locums and other doctors who do not have an obivous responsbile officer.

GMC chair Charley Massey said: ‘We’ve held discussions with representatives of doctors, patients and other bodies who deliver revalidation across the UK, focusing on the key actions required to make improvements, without adding additional cost or burden. This plan, and the commitments in it, is the result of that initial joint work.

‘But it’s just the beginning, and it’s vital now that we maintain the momentum. We need the continued commitment from a wide range of organisations to make revalidation a better experience for doctors, especially at a time when they are under ever-increasing pressure.

‘Revalidation is integral to assuring patients that we regularly confirm that a doctor remains fit to practise. Our focus now is continuing to work with other organisations, getting their feedback and input, as we act on commitments set out in this plan.’

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that the BMA ‘supports the principle of revalidation’, adding: ‘We see this action plan as an opportunity to reduce the burden that revalidation imposes on doctors.

‘In particular, we want to see implementation of the recommendation from Sir Keith Pearson’s review that local organisations should not use revalidation as a lever to achieve objectives beyond the GMC’s revalidation requirements.

’We also agree with Sir Keith that doctors should be able to challenge decisions they feel are unfair.

Dr Nagpaul added that the BMA will ‘continue to press the GMC and other bodies about the actions needed to relieve the unnecessary burden that revalidation can sometimes place on doctors’.

The GMC’s revalidation ‘action plan’

  1. Making revalidation more accessible to patients and the public.
  2. Reducing burdens and improving the appraisal experience for doctors.
  3. Strengthening assurance where doctors work in multiple locations.
  4. Reducing the number of doctors without a connection.
  5. Tracking the impact of revalidation
  6. Supporting improved local governance.

Source: Taking Revalidation Forward Action Plan