Patients and the public

What is revalidation?

Revalidation is a system of regulation for medical doctors which was introduced by the General Medical Council in December 2012. To revalidate and continue to hold a licence to practise, doctors have to demonstrate regularly that their knowledge is up to date and they are fit to practise.

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What is the General Medical Council?

The General Medical Council (GMC) is an independent body with responsibility for regulating doctors in the UK. Its legal purpose is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by making sure that doctors meet its standards for good medical practice.

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How does a doctor revalidate?

Revalidation is based on information from a doctor’s annual appraisals, supported by a portfolio of information. This portfolio includes evidence of the doctor’s continuing professional development, their involvement in quality improvement activity, complaints, compliments and significant events, and formal feedback from patients and colleagues.

The appraisal outputs are reviewed by a senior doctor who is known as their ‘responsible officer’. Based on this information and additional governance information held by their health care organisation, the responsible officer will make a recommendation to the GMC normally every five years, on whether to revalidate the doctor. The GMC will then decide whether the doctor should be revalidated and continue to hold a licence to practise.

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Why are we doing this?

When you visit a doctor, whether this is your GP or a doctor in a hospital, you want to know that the doctor you see will provide you with the best possible care. The aim of revalidation is to give extra confidence to patients that their doctor can provide this care by being up to date and fit to practise.

Over time, we believe the system will contribute towards better and safer care for patients, by improving doctors’ professional development.

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Were patients involved in designing this system?

During the development of revalidation several research studies were commissioned to understand patient and public views on the proposal.

Research conducted by Ipsos MORI and The King’s Fund showed that patients felt the proposed policy would meet their needs, expectations and concerns. In fact, many assumed that a system similar to revalidation already existed. You can read the report below:

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What happens if a doctor doesn’t revalidate?

The vast majority of doctors will meet the requirements for revalidation. There will be times when the requirements are not fulfilled and in these cases the responsible officer has two options available:

  • One of these options is to recommend a deferral of the recommendation for an appropriate period of time. This might simply be because the doctor needs further time to gather evidence or complete a piece of relevant training.
  • However, where doctors persistently lack the evidence to support their revalidation or do not participate in an annual appraisal, the responsible officer can make a formal notice of non-engagement to the GMC. This risks the doctor not being revalidated and losing their licence to practise.

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How can I get involved?

All doctors have to collect structured patient feedback, usually through the use of formal questionnaires. Your doctor may already have asked you to complete one of these questionnaires. The information which you give will be reviewed by the doctor (this will be anonymised so that the doctor cannot identify you), with their appraiser, and the doctor will think about how the information can be used to improve the care the doctor gives.

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Further information

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