There are 56,000 GPs earmarked to be revalidated in five years, starting in April 2011.
College revalidation lead Professor Mike Pringle said that if the target was not reached in the first year, more GPs would have to be revalidated in 2012/13 to catch up.
He told GP: 'We had been working on the basis of 15,000 a year so the numbers are actually lower than we expected.
'We will probably not reach the full 12,000 quota in the first year but we will have to have a very significant throughput and then add on any not done to the following year.'
Early adopter GPs piloting the system will be the first to be formally recommended for revalidation by the GMC.
Meanwhile, the college hopes primary care organisations (PCOs) will consult local GPs about when to start the process.
'The current thinking is that PCOs will discuss with their doctors which years they want to go in. Some PCOs will put a fifth of their doctors through every year, while others will want to front-load and get it over with - and of course some GPs will want to do the same.
'But some PCOs will not have the systems in place and will want to wait. But if one year is overloaded, we will have to work with them to ensure a reasonable distribution.'
In the first year, the RCGP plans to work with PCOs with good-quality clinical governance systems, effective annual appraisals and an appointed res-ponsible officer. GPs in the first wave will submit less evidence because of the short time period covered, the RCGP says.
- Revalidation is the theme of this week's RCGP conference in Glasgow. GP, the official media partner, will bring you exclusive news and video coverage, in print and on a special section of our website at healthcarerepublic.com/rcgp