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Revalidation figures don’t tell the full story



Dr Julian Archer, director of the collaboration for the advancement of medical education research and assessment, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry

Pulse recently reported that revalidation ‘has raised concerns for just 23 GPs’. But headlines always risk hiding a range of important issues and this one is no exception.

First, revalidation has not long started and the 23 GPs have been identified from a mere 8,000 who have been through the process so far.

Second, one in 10 GPs has had his or her revalidation date deferred. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as a career break, but demonstrates that responsible officers around the UK are making difficult decisions about colleagues, even if it is to say that they do not have enough information to make an outright revalidation judgment.

Lastly, the Pulse headline also overlooks the various ‘faces’ of revalidation, as we have found in our own research.

Small numbers of GPs being identified as poor may make a good news angle, but they still do not represent the whole story. What we really need to know is: does revalidation help to improve patient care through supporting doctors and their personal development and reflection?

As researchers at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, we recently submitted an evaluation framework for revalidation to the GMC. This, we hope, will be the start of a relatively long journey to answer these important questions.

Dr Julian Archer is director of the collaboration for the advancement of medical education research and assessment at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry