Exclusive: Appraisal chaos delays GP revalidation

Confusion over appraisal systems has left one in seven GPs having their revalidation deferred in parts of the country, the RCGP has warned.

Professor Nigel Sparrow: concern over appraisal variation
Professor Nigel Sparrow: concern over appraisal variation

Revalidation dates are being put back for GPs more frequently than for other doctors, according to RCGP revalidation lead Professor Nigel Sparrow.

Figures released by the GMC earlier this year showed that revalidation was deferred for 11% of GPs scheduled to undergo the process in the six months to June 2013. Among other doctors, revalidation was deferred in just 9% of cases.

But the GP deferral rate is as high as 15% in parts of the UK, Professor Sparrow told GP. The high rate could be because responsible officers (ROs) are taking a 'more cautious approach' with GPs because they are faced with scores of different appraisal systems, he said.

GP leaders have demanded a single model of appraisal to avoid GPs being unfairly singled out for deferral by ROs.

Professor Sparrow said: 'One RO may now have to work on what was three or four different PCT (appraisal systems). Each of those PCTs will have had a different system for their appraisal management.

'Secondary care doctors haven't had that radical change. They have remained within their trust, so the systems in place have continued.'

Of 833 doctors whose revalidation was deferred in the six months to June, 351 were GPs. Revalidation can be deferred for up to a year.

GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said GPs who have had their revalidation deferred face high levels of stress.

'It is about your licence to practise,' she said. 'There should be no reason why GPs should have higher deferral rates. I want us all to be treated the same.'

She said a postcode lottery for appraisal was unacceptable and called for a universal appraisal model with 'defined standards'.

GPC revalidation lead Dr Dean Marshall has called for the GMC to provide more details about why the GPs have been deferred. 'We need to know the facts,' he said. 'It doesn't seem to be an issue around performance. We were under the impression that GPs were better prepared because of the difficulty hospital doctors had in getting data from hospital systems.'

An NHS England spokeswoman said: 'We expect the number of deferrals initially to be higher as the system beds in.'

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