One in ten doctors appraised in the last six months have had their revalidation delayed after responsible officers requested more time to make their decision, according to the GMC.
Of the 8,724 recommendations from responsible doctors acted upon by the GMC between 3 December 2012 and 3 June 2013, 833 doctors- including 351 GPs – had their revalidation deferred. This equates to 9.55% of doctors.
The GPC said this would cause alarm among GPs, but the GMC said the system was designed so that responsible officers needing more time to make a recommendation could defer.
Responsible officers can recommend a GP’s revalidation should be deferred if they cannot make a decision about the doctor’s revalidation on the basis of the information currently available to them.
This could be because the doctor has provided incomplete supporting information, or because they are going through a local investigation or disciplinary process and the result will inform the responsible officer’s decision. Revalidation can be deferred for up to a year after the doctor’s original revalidation date.
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said most GPs who have contacted the GPC because their revalidation has been deferred said it was due to administrative problems.
He said: ‘We need to understand why they’ve had deferred. It’s very worrying for any GP to have to deal with a bureaucratic process that’s out of their control which leads to deferment.
‘The impression we’ve had from GPs who’ve contacted us is that it’s the bureaucracy that’s causing the problems.’
He added that these figures would worry GPs as deferment is perceived negatively: ‘While supposedly a neutral act, deferment is seen in a negative light and that’s why GPs have been so fearful of the process. These figures will worry GPs.’
‘Unfortunate variation in responsible officers approaching revalidation. There are variations in decisions and that’s something the GMC need to look at. We look forward to universal standards. The GMC and responsible officers need to work to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible for GPs.’
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson, said the system was designed so that responsible officers could choose to defer revalidation, giving them more time to make a recommendation to the GMC.
He said: ‘We are delighted with the progress that revalidation has made since it was introduced in December last year. More than 7,500 doctors have revalidated so far and all doctors should now have a revalidation date.
‘The vast majority of doctors put forward have successfully revalidated and, as expected, we have approved a small proportion for deferral.
‘The system is designed to be flexible so that if responsible officers need more time before making a recommendation they can defer allowing the doctor to continue to practise in the meantime.’