Of 8,724 revalidation recommendations acted on by responsible officers between 3 December 2012 and 3 June 2013, 833 were deferred (9.6%), including 351 GPs, the GMC has confirmed.
GPC revalidation lead Dr Dean Marshall said he was 'shocked' by the figure and said it was 'way higher than it should be'. The GPC expected the figure to be under 5%, he said.
‘It is exactly what we thought would happen because it is to do with administrative problems rather than clinical ones,’ he told GP. ‘We have had feedback from GPs who have been deferred because they haven’t reflected on patient feedback.’
Dr Marshall said he understood that only one doctor had 'failed to engage' with the revalidation process, but he could not confirm whether the doctor was a GP.
Revalidation can be deferred for up to one year from a doctor's original revalidation date. It can be deferred if doctors are unable to gather required information, or because they are undergoing local HR or disciplinary procedures.
Birmingham LMC said that its area team, which covers 2,000 GPs in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, has confirmed that 10% of GPs have had their revalidation dates deferred so far.
Dr Robert Morley, Birmingham LMC’s executive secretary, warned that the ‘chaotic’ NHS reforms have left some GP appraisers in the area out of pocket by thousands of pounds in outstanding appraisal fees.
‘It is like everything else, there has been lack of clarity,' he said. 'We have had a chaotic re-organisation. Appraisers haven’t paid. They are owed thousands of pounds.’
On the deferrals, he said: ‘Most of the reasons are temporary, to do with bits of evidence that were required for their final appraisal, mainly with certain things not having been done such as feedback or reflection on feedback. There was a misunderstanding. It is not a suggestion that they are unfit to practise. It is because of a lack of clarity over a new process.’
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the GMC was ‘delighted with the progress that revalidation has made since it was introduced in December last year’.
‘More than 7,500 doctors have revalidated so far and all doctors should now have a revalidation date,’ he said.
‘The vast majority of doctors put forward have successfully revalidated and, as expected, we have approved a small proportion for deferral.
‘The system is designed to be flexible so that if responsible officers need more time before making a recommendation they can defer allowing the doctor to continue to practise in the meantime.’