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Revalidation identifies fewer than 1% of GPs needing remediation

GP leaders have branded revalidation as ‘a waste of time’ as official data revealed that less than 1% of all doctors actually needed remediation.

Figures obtained by Pulse show only 145 (0.7%) of the 23,289 GPs put through the process last year were not revalidated because they were still in an ‘ongoing process’ which GMC said included, but was not limited to, remediation proceedings.

It comes two years after revalidation was introduced, and as the GMC is entering the final year of a three-year process to revalidate all GPs who were registered with the regulator in 2012. After this, revalidation will continue in five-year cycles.

GPC contracts and regulations subcommittee chair Dr Robert Morley said the minimal number of doctors needing remediation suggested that the ‘incredibly burdensome process’ is ‘pretty much a waste of time’ and needed to be made less labour intensive.

In all, 20,741 of doctors (89%) were successfully revalidated on the first attempt last year, while some 10% did not complete the process because their responsible officer required more supporting information before being able to recommend revalidation. The remaining 0.3% (76 GPs) were found ‘not to engage’ with the revalidation process.

The figures were broadly the same the previous year, with 89% out of 16,021 GPs approved, 11% deferred for a lack of information and a marginal 0.4% deferred for remediation. Only 5 GPs did not engage.

GPs have previously complained that the GMC’s revalidation process, brought in from 2013/14 after a six-month period in which GP leaders and responsible officers were targeted, has become a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ for some GPs, despite an initial promise from the regulator it would take only a day to complete.

GP leaders have also criticised the withdrawal of funding for available supporting tools, with some even suggesting GPs should be remunerated for their time spent completing ’70-hour marathons’ to gather the extensive documentation required.

NHS England area teams have withdrawn funding for the Clarity appraisal tool and the RCGP is charging new subscribers to the latest version of its toolkit.

A recent GMC report found that revalidation was a bigger than expected burden on GPs, with many spending more than double the six hours it was expected to take to prepare.

According to Dr Morley, there was a ‘postcode lottery’ for GPs as some responsible officers in different regions are asking for information that ‘goes beyond GMC requirements’.

Commenting on the data obtained by Pulse, he said: ‘It really does suggest that the incredibly burdensome process, and all the extra work and stress that it puts on GPs and the extra time involved in the appraisal process, is pretty much a waste of time.’

‘These figures suggest that a far simpler process would be much more fit for purpose, far better for doctors and far better for patients.’

The GMC is targeting a record 70,000 doctors for revalidation in 2015, with its business plan stating that it hopes it will ‘help… doctors to reflect on their practice, understand what they do well and how they can improve’, and that it will ‘drive up the standards of care that patients receive’.

Dr Peter Holden, a GP in Matlock Derbyshire who fought for simplification of the revalidation process as GPC negotiatior, said: ‘The system is functioning, with 99% of us up to scratch, but GPs are now doing this from their take-home pay. The bottom line is it needs a re-costing. None of us mind doing quality work, but quality has to be paid for.’