GMC data suggest the number of doctors undergoing revalidation is running slightly ahead of schedule.
But the deferral rates, which are proportionally higher among GPs than specialist doctors, have been described as ‘worryingly high’ by leading GPs.
GPC revalidation lead Dr Dean Marshall warned that it was important to delve further into the reasons why so many GPs were not considered to have sufficient evidence to go ahead with the process.
60% of GPs have started revalidation
The latest GMC revalidation operation reports, which cover the period from December 2012 when the programme began to August 2014, show that 24,008 GPs in England have now undergone the process, equivalent to around 60% of the profession.
Of these, 21,082 received a positive recommendation, but one in eight (2,812) had the process deferred because they were unable to supply sufficient evidence.
Official targets specified that the majority of doctors should be revalidated by April 2016. The GMC met its target of assessing 20% of doctors by the end of 2013/14. It aims to revalidate a further 40% over each of the next two financial years.
With 17 months to go until April 2016, the GMC should have completed revalidation for just over half of the GPs in England at this point in time. With 21,082 completed out of 40,000 GPs in England, the figures suggest it is on track.
'Worryingly high' deferral rates
But Dr Marshall expressed concern about the ‘worryingly high’ proportion of deferrals.
‘Is it that these GPs have failed to properly engage in the process, or that there are things about their particular working lives that makes it difficult for them to accumulate the data they need?’ he asked.
GP reported last year that revalidation deferrals were more common for GPs than specialist doctors. Current figures show one in 10 specialists had their recommendation deferred, revealing this disparity remains.
The number of GPs deferred in England also compares unfavourably to the devolved nations. In Scotland, just 5% of GPs had their recommendation deferred, while in both Wales and Northern Ireland only 8% were deferred.
The GMC said the revalidation data was ‘not yet big enough to draw general conclusions from’.