Responsible officer FAQs

What do I have to do as a responsible officer?

Responsible officers have an important statutory role in medical regulation. The successful implementation of revalidation depends to a considerable degree on the competence and skills of those doctors carrying out this role.

As a responsible officer you are accountable for the local clinical governance processes in your particular healthcare organisation, focusing on the conduct and performance of doctors. Your duties include evaluating a doctor’s fitness to practise, and liaising with the GMC over relevant procedures.

It is your job to make recommendations; but the decision on whether a doctor should be revalidated belongs to the GMC, as the regulator.

You will also liaise with the GMC on individual fitness to practise cases, where you judge that national sanctions may be required.

It is important that you understand the local context and are on hand to take action to remedy low level problems at an early stage. You’ll also ensure that the organisation has appropriate systems for appraising the performance and conduct of doctors. This local focus and a closer link with the GMC will deliver a system that is fairer to doctors and safer for patients.

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Which doctors am I the RO for?

Your list should match that which the General Medical Council (GMC) holds against your name on GMC Connect.

The publication Prescribed Connections to NHS England (2014) set out the arrangements for doctors with a prescribed connection to NHS England and which NHS England responsible officer they relate to. An addendum to this document was published in 2023 to account for the arrival of new doctors into NHS England following institutional mergers: ROAN information sheet 51. Prescribed connections to NHS England: 2023 addendum.

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What training do I need and how do I access it?

A training programme for responsible officers has been designed, consisting of up to six modules:

  • Module 1: Revalidation overview, responsible officer regulations and guidance
  • Module 2: Organisational governance and appraisal systems
  • Module 3: Responding to concerns about performance, conduct and health
  • Module 4: Responding to Concerns – part 2
  • Module 5: GMC Protocol
  • Module 6: Locally determined priorities

For more information please go the Responsible Officer training pages here

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As a responsible officer, do I need to revalidate?

Yes you do, in your role as a responsible officer and in your clinical role.

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How do I make a recommendation to the GMC?

Your recommendations will be based on the information collected on the doctor’s conduct and performance. This includes the doctor’s annual appraisal.

You can find information on the protocol for making recommendations here. It includes the GMC’s expectations of what will underpin responsible officer recommendations; and sets out statements and criteria for the three recommendation categories.

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What if I am unable to make a recommendation about a doctor, can I defer?

There are a number of reasons why you may be not be able to make a recommendation, including: missing supporting information / incomplete portfolio; exceptional circumstances, such as maternity leave, prolonged sick leave or sabbatical; doctors under investigation; and doctors who have not engaged with the appraisal process.

In order to support responsible officers achieve consistency with deferral decisions and timings of deferrals across England, a guidance document has been developed by NHS England.

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Who am I accountable to?

In the majority of cases, responsible officers are accountable to the higher level responsible officer/regional medical director at NHS England.

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How can I get my appraisers trained to deliver ‘revalidation-ready’ appraisals?

Between January 2012 and March 2013, appraiser training materials were designed and piloted for use across all sectors and specialties. Over 400 facilitators were trained to deliver the training consistently across the country. Two sets of training programmes were then rolled out through the regional revalidation teams: one for existing appraisers and one for new appraisers.

You can find more information about appraisal training here.

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How can I ensure that my appraisers are effective?

Quality assurance of medical appraisers is essential. The document Quality Assurance of Medical Appraisers provides a practical framework for assuring the quality of medical appraisers.

It contains advice on:

  • recruitment and selection of appraisers
  • training of medical appraisers
  • support and review of medical appraisers

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Is there further useful information I can read?

The GMC has set out generic requirements for medical practice and appraisal in three main documents:

The Medical Appraisal Guide will help you understand what you need to do to prepare for and participate in appraisal for revalidation.

You can find additional key information for responsible officers here

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