Exclusive: GPs are wasting hundreds of hours on revalidation, says RCGP

Some GPs could save several working weeks' worth of time a year by cutting down on unnecessary work preparing for revalidation, according to the RCGP.

RCGP revalidation lead Dr Susi Caesar
RCGP revalidation lead Dr Susi Caesar

'The majority' of GPs are spending hours collecting evidence above and beyond the 50 CPD credits they are required to record to pass revalidation, the RCGP has said.

RCGP revalidation lead Dr Susi Caesar told GPonline that she had seen GPs who had collected over 400 CPD credits – eight times the amount they are required to collect  in a year.

GPs feeling like they have to document everything they learn is a ‘very common problem’, she added, with many GP ‘hugely overcomplicating’ the process.

Cutting workload associated with revalidation could help ease pressure on GPs  who cited excessive regulation among the top five factors pushing them towards early retirement in a BMA poll last year that found one in three could quit within five years.

GP revalidation

‘It’s about quality, not quantity,’ said Dr Caesar. ‘It takes 50 hours a year to keep up to date – in my experience, most GPs spend 200. They don’t need to write down detailed notes about all 200, they should pick the best examples.’

She added: ‘I have seen somebody with over 400 credits.’

Her comments came as the RCGP released guidance on revalidation intended to streamline and clarify what the process requires from GPs.

The new recommendations emphasise that GPs should claim one CPD credit for each hour of learning they undertake, and should stop recording this once they hit the required 50 credits.

With GPs recording hundreds more credits than needed – and 50 credits at one credit per hour amounting to over six eight-hour working days – the numbers suggest many GPs could free up days and weeks’ worth of time currently spent compiling evidence and reflecting on their learning.

GP workload

Dr Caesar said GPs were spending much longer than they needed to on revalidation. ‘GPs are people who got A* at A Level, and they want to be perfect,’ she said. ‘In my experience as an appraiser, the vast majority of GPs do too much. Because they don’t know when to stop, they don’t know when good enough is good enough to prove your status as fit to practise.

‘Some people literally do try and write down what they learned from every single patient they see. I want one or two high quality examples of your reflective practice that helps me see whether you are the type of person who thinks about the patient in front of you and changes things if you’ve learned something new.

‘But I don’t want you wasting your time which should be spent with your patients or relaxing with your family and friends – I don’t want you to spend your time writing down everything you do.’

The current problems with revalidation are ‘all in the implementation’, she said. ‘The principles laid down by the GMC are fine, the problem is individuals over-interpreting the guidance.’

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