DoH puts brakes on revalidation

Serious doubts have emerged over the future of revalidation after the RCGP predicted 'very limited' roll-out in 2011 and the BMA said current plans were 'threatening and disproportionate'.

Professor Pringle said GPs should not be in the 'firing line' for revalidation
Professor Pringle said GPs should not be in the 'firing line' for revalidation

Following the criticism, health secretary Andrew Lansley this week wrote to GMC chairman Peter Rubin to say he intends to extend revalidation piloting into 2012.

Mr Lansley said this would allow the government to develop 'a clearer understanding of the costs, benefits and practicalities of implementation so that it can be paced in a way that is affordable, supports high-quality care and makes effective use of doctors' time'.

Last week, the RCGP's revalidation lead predicted that only 1,000 GPs, all from revalidation pilots, would submit themselves in 2011, less than a tenth of the number previously suggested.

AUDIO PODCAST - RCGP roundtable debate on revalidation

In its response to the GMC's consultation on revalidation, the BMA said it could not support the plans as they stand and that it would resist a system that is 'overly bureaucratic and cumbersome' and takes doctors away from patient care.

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'With the NHS facing cuts, this is not the time to spend invaluable resources on forcing doctors to dedicate time to box-ticking and form-filling.'

BMA members contributing to the organisation's response to the GMC's consultation said the current plans were 'threatening and disproportionate'.

The BMA also said revalidation 'will prove expensive to implement and give rise to the possibility, in the current financial climate, that these costs will fall on individual doctors'.

The government has yet to say who will pay for revalidation. But Dr Paul Charlson, a member of the Conservative party clinical advisory committee, said the costs of revalidation may be included when the GP contract is renegotiated next year.

'A few thousand pounds' could be allocated into the contract so that GPs 'won't have to bear the brunt of it', he said.

The GMC said it was committed to ensuring revalidation was 'not overly burdensome or bureaucratic' and it would only be introduced when the systems were in place to ensure it works.

RCGP revalidation lead Professor Mike Pringle revised his forecast of the numbers of GPs submitting themselves next year from 12,000 to 1,000 GPs.

He said 2011 would be a 'very limited roll-out to those who have had a dry run'.

With different branches of the profession at different stages of readiness, Professor Pringle said GPs should not be in the 'firing line' for revalidation. 'We don't want GPs to be revalidated and waiting while the rest of the profession catches up,' he said.

The DoH said the government was committed to a scheme of revalidation for doctors but it wanted to be 'absolutely sure' it was not 'putting undue burden on doctors or the NHS'.

BMA's KEY CONCERNS
  • Recertification standards too complex and unrealistic.
  • Plans are still uncosted.
  • Roll-out must only go ahead after evaluation of pathfinder pilots and proposals agreed.
  • 'Serious and multiple' conflicts of interest for some responsible officers.
  • Royal college specialist standards criticised.

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