Revalidation on track despite patchy support for responsible officers

Revalidation is on track to start at the end of 2012 despite evidence that a third of responsible officers (ROs) have too little funding to carry out their role, DoH advisers believe.

A report by the DoH-funded revalidation support team that assesses the readiness of the NHS to implement revalidation found that a ‘great deal of progress’ had been made.

A total of 97.8% of organisations that responded had appointed an RO, the senior doctors who will act as a link between local health organisations and the GMC.

But it found that only 67.7% of ROs had ‘sufficient funds and other resources’ to discharge their functions.

In addition, only 85.2% of doctors in PCTs had completed an appraisal in the last year. In hospital trusts, the figure is far lower, at just 55.7%.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘This report is a wake up call to health service organisations in England - they must put in place the right systems for monitoring and supporting clinical practice.

‘This is needed for revalidation but more fundamentally it is needed to ensure high quality, safe care. The report shows there is clearly more to do in some areas, although we know from speaking to medical directors and ROs that there is momentum and significant progress has been made even since this review was carried out.’

The report covers the 2010/11 financial year, and the revalidation support team will publish a similar report around June next year. That report will form a major part of the evidence upon which health secretary Andrew Lansley decides whether or not to roll out revalidation in full from late 2012 as planned.

Birmingham GP Dr Maurice Conlon, a programme director with the support team, said that based on the statistics in the report, he was ‘pretty confident’ revalidation would not be further delayed.

‘This report is about ROs assessing the system as it stands,’ said Dr Conlon. ‘Compared with the findings of a similar exercise in 2009, it shows the direction of travel is good.’

Dr Conlon added: ‘There is a lot in this report that impresses me, regarding the speed ROs are getting to grips with this.

‘I have been around since start of appraisal, doctors were initially quite sceptical. We are in the same phase with revalidation now. Doctors withhold judgement until they are confident with something new especially if it means a change to their way of going about things.

‘I hope in few years doctors will see the value of it as a framework of support for them through their career, but also as a universal benefit in terms of quality throughout the system.’

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