Exclusive: Revalidation may spark a GP exodus

Half of GPs are not ready for revalidation and 20% may quit the profession.

A fifth of GPs are considering a change of career because of revalidation, GP can reveal.

Research conducted by Doctors.net.uk found that 16% of doctors were considering a career change as a direct result of revalidation.

This figure rises to more than 20% among GPs. Also, over half of these are considering leaving medicine altogether.

One GP commented that revalidation would 'eat up time when patients could be treated'. Another wrote: 'I'm sure Shipman would have passed with flying colours.'

Dr Tim Ringrose, managing director of medical communities at Doctors.net.uk, said the survey showed that GPs were more concerned about revalidation than their colleagues in other specialties.

He added that most doctors still have only 'a limited knowledge' of the process, and want the GMC, DoH and other organisations to provide more details.

'Doctors recognise the importance of demonstrating that they are fit to practise and up to date,' he said.

'But they want to ensure revalidation doesn't become a tick-box exercise or a process that takes time away from patient care.'

The survey found that only 15% of doctors felt 'mostly or totally' ready for revalidation. Meanwhile, 5% said they had received no information on revalidation.

Professor Mike Pringle, revalidation lead at the RCGP, said that the college had been 'trying very hard' to provide information on the process.

The college's guide to revalidation, published on its website, 'will be an evolving document, and will be updated as time goes by', he said.

'But we felt it was very important to provide information at a reasonably early point.'

He added that some of the details were unclear because the process was still being finalised. The RCGP is working with the GPC to establish what proportion of costs doctors would have to bear themselves.

Revalidation will begin in earnest in 2011, after the first portfolios have been examined in the autumn of next year.

But a majority of doctors (56%, including 52% of GPs) said they are not ready.

Under a third (29%) of doctors think revalidation will be good for patients. Only a quarter think it will help them keep their practice up to date.

Nearly 1,100 doctors responded to the survey, half of whom were GPs.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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