Licences to practise will be issued with no expiry date, raising fears that the roll-out of revalidation will be slow and inequitable, GP newspaper can reveal.
Some GPs will be among the first doctors to be revalidated once national roll-out starts in 2011. RCGP revalidation lead Professor Mike Pringle said that a 'limited number of portfolios' is expected to go for revalidation in January 2011.
Although revalidation is now 'confidently' expected to start in 2011, no date has been set for the end of the roll-out.
When licences to practise are issued in autumn, they will have no expiry date, leaving the way open for an indefinite roll-out.
A slow roll-out would create inequity across the UK, with revalidation required in some areas or specialties while other doctors practise unrevalidated.
The GMC has not decided yet whether to start the roll-out by area, specialty or workplace.
GMC chairman Professor Peter Rubin stressed the need 'to ensure we don't start until we're ready.'
Professor Pringle said revalidation would only be possible in areas where responsible officers have been appointed and they would need volunteers. He suggested it would take five years to revalidate the entire profession.
The GMC announced this week that all doctors would be required to hold a licence to practise by 16 November. It has contacted all 225,000 doctors on its register, and around half have responded, with most saying they wish to be licensed.
Meanwhile, the GMC's first revalidation guide, Information for Doctors and Frequently Asked Questions, says doctors are 'very unlikely' to face an examination as the system will reflect their practice.
The advice covers learning credits, career breaks and deferring revalidation.
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