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GMC reveals revalidation has raised concerns for just 23 GPs

Exclusive Only 23 GPs have had concerns flagged through revalidation and have had to undergo further training or remediation, according to figures disclosed by the GMC.

The new statistics reveal for the first time the extent of the problems with GP performance that have been picked up in over 8,000 GPs in the UK since revalidation was introduced in December 2012.

Correct to September 2013, they show just 23 GPs were not revalidated as they were part of an ‘ongoing local process’ – either because they were undergoing remediation or were required to complete another local process before they could be revalidated.

A further 851 had their revalidation deferred due to there being ‘insufficient evidence’, although the GMC did say that many of these were doctors in training who wanted to wait until they had completed their studies before being revalidated.

The GMC also said that ‘less than ten’ GPs had been listed as failing to engage with the process.

The figures support comments from the chair of the GMC in 2012 suggesting that revalidation could end up identifying fewer than 125 GPs who require remediation in its first five-year cycle – fewer than were singled out under previous processes.

But the figures prompted GP leaders to question whether the whole process of revalidation was a useful use of GPs’ time, if very few serious clinical issues were being picked up.

The GPC’s lead on revalidation, Dr Dean Marshall, told Pulse that he had yet to hear of any incompetent doctors unearthed by revalidation.

He said: ‘We’ve had no indication that [any deferrals were] due to clinical issues, and the vast majority are due to administrative problems’.

Dr Marshall also revealed that, although the GPC continues to support the principle of revalidation, it has longstanding concerns about the process and has set up a national revalidation council to bring the GMC and other relevant bodies round a table to discuss its implementation.

He told Pulse: ‘We think there are continuing problems that are likely to persist, and that there should be an identified group to deal with GP issues.’

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden recently predicted a ‘revolt’ from grassroots GPs last year after warning some are spending more than 40 hours preparing for appraisals.

Dr Peter Graves, secretary of Bedfordshire and Hertordshire LMC, said although the introduction of revalidation had presented few problems, it had introduced a level of bureaucracy that GPs found difficult. He added: ‘It has detracted from the true value of appraisal and revalidation.’

But the GMC said last year that the scheme had been a success so far, even though its figures showed one in ten GPs having their revalidation deferred in the first year. The regulator’s chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘These are very early days, but we are pleased with the progress made in the first year’.