A report by the House of Commons health select committee said that concerns had been raised over the amount of work the GMC had to do before the implementation of revalidation in late 2012.
MPs therefore called for the regulator to advise doctors as soon as possible if it was not going meet the late 2012 deadline for revalidation.
The report said: 'In the light of the importance of this process to the quality of services delivered to patients, and of the status of the GMC as an independent regulator, the Committee looks to the GMC to give early and public notice if it concludes that delivery of this timetable is at risk.'
However, in its response to the recommendation the GMC said that it was confident that the scheme would run on time. ‘Revalidation remains the GMC’s number one priority. We are determined and on track to introduce a system by late 2012 (subject to the health secretary’s approval).
‘Over time, revalidation will provide increased assurance that licensed doctors are up to date with and practising to the appropriate professional standards,’ the GMC added.
The report by MPs also criticised the revalidation process. It said that only a minority of responsible officers felt that revalidation would help with the early identification of doctors with performance issues. The GMC needs to ensure that its systems of appraisal and revalidation identify problem doctors early on, the committee said.
In response to the criticism, the GMC said that it was taking steps to create better links with employers to identify and manage concerns.
‘This year we are introducing a network of dedicated employer liaison advisers. Their role will include developing good links with responsible officers across the UK to support an earlier two-way exchange of information and advice on poorly performing doctors or those about whom the employer has potential concerns,’ the GMC said.
The committee also called for the GMC to speed up its work on revalidation to ensure that it was a meaningful process for GPs and other doctors.
The committee said: ‘The GMC clearly has a considerable amount of work to undertake between now and the implementation of revalidation in 2012… the GMC needs to accelerate its work with the medical royal colleges to further refine the standards for revalidation in specialist areas and to ensure that the process is meaningful to clinicians and transparent to the public.’
In its response, the GMC said that the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges was developing craft specific guidance.
MPs also called for the GMC to monitor the number of doctors who retired prior to, or struggled with, revalidation.
In the run up to revalidation a number of doctors may choose to retire, rather than go through the revalidation. Others may fail revalidation or require further training. The GMC must monitor these doctors and share any relevant information with employers, the committee said.
The GMC confirmed that it would share revalidation decisions with relevant employers and consider the requirement to share information when developing its internal and supporting systems.
Responding the report, chief executive of the GMC Niall Dickson, said: ‘We welcome the Committee’s report and their continued strong support for our work on revalidation. We share the Committee’s commitment to delivering revalidation; patients expect it and we remain on track to introduce it later this year.’