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NHS England clarifies revalidation guidance for GPs working few sessions

GPs who work very few sessions will be asked to submit extra paperwork in their revalidation, under new NHS England guidance.

The BMA welcomed the guidance, which it said provided ‘clarity’ for the workforce.

Under the new guidance, sessional GPs who work fewer than 40 sessions per year will have to submit a ‘structured reflective template’ (SRT) to demonstrate their continued ability to provide safe care.

This is the first guidance to set a defined threshold for the number of sessions a GP has to have worked without having to submit the SRT.

The guidance said: ‘The purpose of this threshold is to act as a trigger for reflection and discussion about the scope, circumstances and personal development goals consistent with inclusion.

‘It is explicitly not to be viewed as a pass or fail for the doctor but rather as a prompt for the reflective discussion outlined above to take place during annual appraisal.’

The SRT will ask GPs to reflect on nine criteria, including previous experience, overlap in relevant experience from a different role and whether the low volume of work was consistent through out the year or whether significant breaks were taken.

According to the guidance, GPs that raise concerns in light of this reflection could face, ‘withdrawal from the Medical Performers List with the consideration of options for future re-entry including the refresher scheme by the portfolio route’.

In a blog post for the BMA, Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, deputy chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, said the new system ‘will provide a much-needed boost to our beleaguered workforce and provide everyone with clarity’.

He said: ‘This will provide the system, the public, the appraiser and the GP with assurance that they continue to practice safely and will remove the burden of anxiety and doubt from the many hard working and able GPs who choose to work lower numbers of clinical sessions, recognising that many also carry out other roles alongside this retained clinical commitment.’

The GMC said last year that it intended to simplify revalidation in line with recommendations from the Pearson review, which had made a range of recommendations including on how to reduce the related workload.

Meanwhile, a three-year GMC review of revalidation found the process ‘may not necessarily improve professional practice’, while some doctors ‘identified potentially negative impacts’.