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Revalidation begins today with medical leaders

GP leaders will receive letters giving their revalidation date today, as the start of the biggest shake-up in doctors’ regulation in 150 years begins.

The GMC plans for responsible officers and medical leaders to be revalidated by March 2013, with the majority of doctors completed the process by 2018.

The majority of GPs will receive a letter providing their revalidation date by January next year.

The new system includes annual appraisal and requires GPs to collect information about their professional practice, including feedback from patients, doctors, nurses and other colleagues, as part of the GMC’s efforts to check GPs are safe to treat patients.

Professor Sir Peter Rubin, chair of the GMC, who will be one of the first doctors to revalidate, said Monday was an ‘important’ day for doctors and patients.

He said: ‘We are confident that over time revalidation will make a significant contribution to the quality of care that patients receive and should give them increased confidence that the doctors who treat them are up to date.’

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said: ‘Today is important, but the job isn’t done yet. It will require resources and a focus on revalidation as an ongoing commitment to get doctors and, in time, other staff fully engaged in the process.’

Dr Nigel Sparrow, the lead on revalidation for the RCGP and chair of the Professional Development Board told Pulse that he was ‘looking forward’ to his appraisal today.

He said: ‘I’m looking forward to it, as with other appraisals. I know it will be supportive and developmental. This is an opportunity to speak with a colleague about their professional development, it’s not a tick-box exercise.’

He added that preparation has been no more cumbersome than in previous years: ‘It took about half a day to complete all the documents. I’ve been trying to collect info as I go along. It hasn’t been a great deal different to last year’s appraisal, apart from the GMC approved colleague-patient feedback.

‘What was different was that I also submitted information on cycle audits, serious untoward incidents and supporting information for all the roles I do. This will cover all the work I do as a doctor including development lead for the RCGP, GP trainer and my previous role at a postgraduate deanery.’

He is concerned that there is a misconception- often espoused by PCTs- that revalidation is about improving quality standards: ‘Revalidation isn’t about being good or excellent, it’s about being good enough for a license. Some PCTs have tried to drive up revalidation beyond the GMC requirements.

His advice for GPs soon to be revalidated would be to record information throughout the year and try to implement lessons learnt in CPD into patient care, to double points.

‘It’s a matter of recording information throughout the year. If you note down CPD with every selective record you will soon accumulate enough.

‘The credit system in this country does recognise implementation which other colleges are envious of. If you can show that learning is used in practice you double your credits.’

Dr Sparrow awaits a recommendation from a responsible officer and a subsequent decision from the GMC before the end of March.