Revalidation launch 'only the beginning', warn MPs

MPs have backed the start of revalidation from today, but warned this was only the 'first step' towards reassuring patients of doctors' competence.

Parliament: health select committee hails start of revalidation
Parliament: health select committee hails start of revalidation

A report from the House of Commons health select committee says the purpose of revalidation should be ‘to give the public greater assurance that the medical professionals treating them are being consistently and regularly appraised for their competence and fitness to practice’.

But this will only be achieved if the system is ‘effectively managed and rigorously monitored’, the MPs warned.

Requirements on doctors to seek feedback from patients as part of revalidation should change, the report said. It said asking doctors to seek feedback every five years was not enough, and the GMC should ‘consider setting a more challenging target’.

The report calls for a series of improvements to handling of remediation for doctors who need it. It says the arrangements for making patients aware when doctors have been asked to undergo remediation are not clear enough, and urges the GMC to ensure that NHS employers have effective remediation systems in place.

The report backs plans for responsible officers to ‘assure themselves of the language competence of the doctors for whom they are responsible’. But it hits out at the lack of progress on tackling European laws that limit language testing.

The select committee also calls for piloting of plans to allow doctors to accept a sanction in a ‘clear-cut’ case without a fitness-to-practise hearing to ensure there is ‘no detriment to the public interest’.

It also calls for the GMC to speed up its plans to tackle outstanding fitness-to-practise cases. The select committee called on the GMC to aim to tackle 90% of cases within 12 months, rather than the existing 15-month target.

Health select committee chairman Stephen Dorrell (Con, Charnwood) said: ‘After a decade of delays we welcome the implementation of the GMC’s long standing commitment to five-yearly revalidation of practising doctors. It is important to recognise, however, that – as the GMC itself has made clear – today’s welcome development is only the beginning.’

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