Get ready for revalidation

Professor Rodger Charlton provides GPs with tips to help them prepare for the new system.

Use your CPD portfolio every day to record and reflect on your learning (Photograph: Ian Hooton/SPL)

Revalidation is here and many GPs are understandably anxious about the concept of ensuring they are relicensed, and the judgments and decisions required to make this possible. Follow these tips to ensure you are fully prepared.

Accept it will happen

Revalidation will happen from December 2012. Doctors have received increasing calls from the public and politicians to demonstrate accountability for their fitness to practise through evidence of satisfactory performance. By spring 2013 every UK doctor should know when their first revalidation assessment is due.

Understanding the change

The current appraisal system varies greatly between different primary care organisations and PCTs.

Through the RCGP revalidation process, GPs will be required to provide objective evidence of their performance. Such evidence will include feedback from patients and colleagues through GMC-approved questionnaires.

In addition, GPs will need to demonstrate within a five-year period that they have analysed significant events, completed an audit, including the full audit cycle, and collected 50 learning credits per year for reflection on learning in a variety of contexts, such as lectures and electronic modules verified by the GP appraiser.

The appraiser's role

An important aspect of the revalidation process is the role of the GP appraiser.

The appraiser will review the portfolio of supporting information collected by a GP in the preceding 12 months, then meet the GP for a professional conversation to discuss the evidence. Having received training, an appraiser can decide whether the amount and quality of evidence are satisfactory. The appraiser communicates this to the responsible officer of the primary care organisation for that GP, to recommend the GP is relicensed by the GMC.


GPs are expected to use their portfolio to demonstrate that they have reflected on each learning event, including feedback, significant events and audits. They should include whether this confirms good practice or whether and how it might lead to a possible change in practice.

Reflection is therefore a key to success in revalidation. Opinions will differ about what reflection is and how it might be defined. The easiest way for GPs to reflect is to consider a learning event and to ask themselves the question: so what?

Choosing a CPD portfolio

There is a choice of CPD folders, but many have exhibited teething problems. Some incorporate a traffic light system so GPs are aware when they have collected sufficient evidence for revalidation.

Different primary care organisations may recommend different CPD folders or allow the GP a choice, perhaps even including a paper version of the portfolio.

Use your portfolio often

To make revalidation easier, establish a routine of regularly adding information to your portfolio. This is preferable to rushing about a couple of weeks before your enhanced appraisal for revalidation.

Stay calm, nobody 'fails'

For most GPs, revalidation is about documenting what they are already doing and merely involves employing a routine of collecting evidence, reflecting on it and recording it in the CPD portfolio. Many questions continue to be asked and as time goes by, the answers will become clearer.

Some GPs may ask, what if I fail? There is no reason why any GP practising sound medicine should fail if they follow the advice provided.

Types of evidence

The required evidence or supporting information includes:

  • CPD as learning credits.
  • Quality improvement as shown by clinical audits and significant event analysis.
  • Feedback from colleagues.
  • Feedback from patients.
  • Review of any complaints and compliments.


Become familiar with the RCGP website and update yourself on what is required by reading the latest information in the revalidation guide.

Reflect on this article and add notes to your CPD Organiser on MIMS Learning

  • Professor Charlton is a GP, associate clinical professor at Nottingham Medical School and honorary professor at Swansea University.

These further action points may allow you to earn more credits by increasing the time spent and the impact achieved.

  • Make notes from the RCGP website and its revalidation guide about what is required for you to revalidate for the first time. Record these in your chosen appraisal CPD folder.
  • Go to the GMC website and read the latest GMC news and what is required for revalidation. Make notes.
  • Prepare for colleague feedback. Record the names of 12 colleagues (six clinical and six non-clinical) and ensure they are happy to complete a survey for you when the time comes.

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