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Revalidation is not a waste of time

From Niall Dickson, chief executive and registrar of the GMC

Pulse’s article on GPs needing remediation misses the point. Revalidation is a process not a point in time, pass or fail test. There is a moment in every cycle when the doctor’s responsible officer signs off that he/she has been part of that process. Unsurprisingly at that point, the vast majority of doctors have successfully provided the evidence and had their appraisals.

A closer look at the figures suggests that it is having an effect. A large number of doctors are being subjected to an appraisal for the first time. Between seven and 12 per cent of doctors are having their revalidation deferred, in most cases because they have not yet been able to produce all the evidence they need to be revalidated. Most will be able to do so, but in some cases it is because they are subject to some form of local disciplinary or remediation process.

There is a further group whose revalidation has been put on hold because they are being investigated by the GMC. Around 1.6 million patients have evaluated their doctor, as have huge numbers of staff who have given feedback on colleagues.

These are early days but initial signs are encouraging. Senior doctors charged with operating the system are overwhelmingly positive and groups such as peripatetic locum doctors who have previously been neglected – and in some cases been viewed as a cause for concern – now collect information about their practice and are subject to annual appraisal.

It remains our ambition to work with the profession, employers and patient groups to refine the system once every doctor has been through it.

We have commissioned an independent evaluation and after interim results in January 2016, we should all be in a better position to assess the impact of the first wave of revalidation and how it can be improved and developed.