Viewpoint: Revalidation is what our patients expect and deserve

With around nine months to go until the GMC expects to revalidate the first doctor, its chairman Professor Peter Rubin explains momentum is building steadily across the UK to get ready.

Professor Rubin: 'I see the introduction of revalidation as helping to focus minds.'
Professor Rubin: 'I see the introduction of revalidation as helping to focus minds.'

Most patients I speak to think that revalidation already exists. They believe that, as in most jobs, we are all regularly appraised and get feedback from those we work with and those we treat. Our patients expect it, they most certainly deserve it and we should continue to work towards delivering it.

There is growing evidence that we are making good progress towards being ready to begin revalidation. We’ve never intended that it would start as a 'big bang'.  We plan to revalidate around 25% of doctors in 2013/14 and build from there, with all doctors having gone through the process by 2016.

Here are some of the facts about where we are:

  • There are delivery boards in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales with representatives of the BMA, the NHS, the private sector as well as the governments of each part of the UK. They are leading change locally and reporting good progress.
  • There are over 600 responsible officers now in place.
  • More than 35,000 doctors have accessed their GMC Online account so far this year to keep the information we hold about them up to date.
  • We have linked 120,000 doctors with the organisation that will provide their regular appraisal. Over the next few months we will be completing the information we have.
  • More than 1,450 doctors, 44,000 patients and 21,000 colleagues have been involved in testing the GMC’s patient and colleague questionnaires. These questionnaires are a reliable tool for gaining feedback and are available on our website.

I have sought feedback from colleagues and patients several times in my career, as I know many other doctors do already, and I have found the feedback helpful. This is not a pass or fail – this is about being a professional who can reflect on their practice and improve year on year.

Doctors are under a lot of pressure and I know there is a lot of change at the moment, but as I go around the country meeting doctors and managers I see the introduction of revalidation as helping to focus minds. They talk about strengthening clinical governance, and providing better information for doctors to help them reflect on and improve their practice.

There are things that still need to be done, we would not say otherwise – but real progress is being made – thanks to support from the BMA and medical royal colleges and the work of employers and the four UK departments of health.

We have waited long enough. Maintaining momentum now is crucial. Patients expect nothing less.

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