Mr Hunt said doctors across the UK would be the first in the world to have regular assessments ensuring they are up to date and fit to practise.
‘Doctors save lives every day and making sure they are up to speed with the latest treatments and technologies will help them save even more,' he said. 'This is why a proper system of revalidation is so important.’
The BMA has backed revalidation after the NHS Commissioning Board pledged to fund remediation for doctors who need it in England. Other UK health departments are expected to follow suit, but details of how much funding will be available and how it will be allocated remain unclear.
But GPC negotiator and revalidation lead Dr Dean Marshall said the GPC feared locum GPs could be forced repeatedly to defer their revalidation because they were unable to collect the evidence need to complete the process. ‘We’ve developed a process and then we’re trying to fit sessional GPs into it.’
Dr Marshall said he also had concerns about the regional ‘variability’ of appraisal.
The GMC will begin to send revalidation dates to all doctors from December this year and will receive recommendations on individual doctors’ revalidation in the same month.
By April 2013 every UK doctor should know when their first revalidation assessment is due. The GMC aims to revalidate most doctors by 2016.
GMC chair Professor Sir Peter Rubin welcomed the decision. He said: ‘This is an historic day for patients and for the medical profession.
'We are confident that the introduction of revalidation will make a major contribution to the quality of care that patients receive and will give them valuable assurance that the doctors who treat them are regularly assessed against our professional standards.’
NHS Employers director Dean Royals said: ‘We must avoid the trap of thinking that this announcement means the job is done.
'The implementation of revalidation will be a challenge and requires active commitment. Making sure the process works in practice is what will be key to its success.’
The DH has also launched a consultation on creating a single national performers list. GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey welcomed the move, saying it would ‘ensure standardisation’.