The RCGP has backed away from a knowledge test for GPs undergoing revalidation.
Instead, it is developing 'mini knowledge tests' to be undertaken 'in the comfort' of a GP's own home after completing a key clinical module.
The outcomes of the mini tests will go into the GP's single portfolio for appraisal, relicensing and recertification.
'The college has no ongoing work on a knowledge assessment,' RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field confirmed.
The RCGP will launch its first pilot modules in June.
Principles of GP appraisal, hammered out at the college, stipulate that all GPs will be expected to undertake a minimum of an hour a week - on average 50 hours a year - of continuing professional development (CPD), leading to 50 CPD credits a year.
The DoH's 2007 White Paper on medical regulation, 'Trust, Assurance and Safety' charged the college with the task of making the current 'cosy chat' GP appraisals fit for relicensing by the GMC and recertification by the RCGP by including performance management as well as 'formative' elements.
Appraisal, which will be central to revalidation, will need to include 'judgments', said Professor Field. But assessments will be made against measurable standards of evidence, mapped against Good Medical Practice.
While the talk between appraiser and appraisee will remain private, an agreed summary will be submitted to the primary care organisation.
Some PCTs have jumped the gun by introducing performance management into appraisals.
North of Tyne PCTs (Newcastle PCT, North Tyneside PCT and Northumberland Care Trust) already call for 360 degs feedback, audit, an analysis of complaints and a health declaration.
The RCGP has commissioned a new review of 360 degrees feedback because it says that no system is 'fit for purpose'.
In 2005, the GMC commissioned Professor John Campbell of Peninsula Medical School to design a 360 degs feedback tool.
However, Professor Field was critical of PCTs in England where appraisal has collapsed.
'England needs to pull its socks up. We think the Welsh model where the deanery rather than the PCT provides the appraisers is good,' he added.
Steps to revalidation
- June 2008: Clinical module pilots launch.
- July 2008: Good Medical Practice for GPs due.
- September 2008: Criteria, Standards & Evidence (define requirements for recertification/relicensure) pilots launch.
- 2009: Gradual roll-out of revalidation.