“The biggest shape up since 1848.” UK doctors to be assessed ‘fit to practice’ every 5 years.

Medical bag

Over 250,000 doctors held on the General Medical Council’s (GMC) registry will now be required to ‘revalidate’ –a new system of checks introduced to prove that they are up to date and fit to practice.

In the pipeline for many years, the proposal for revalidation was announced as a legal requirement in October 2012 with every general practice and hospital doctor in the public and private sector expected to be revalidated by the GMC by 2016.

To revalidate, a doctor must first be put forward by a responsible officer, usually a senior member of staff. A positive recommendation for revalidation will be granted when the responsible officer is satisfied that the doctor is actively engaged in the appraisal practice which includes;

–          proof of continual professional development

–          a review of incidents, complaints and compliments

–          35 supporting statements from patients and staff

The appraisal is based on Good Medical Practice; the GMCs core guidance for doctors which all registered doctorsmust adhere to. The main principle is to “show respect for human life” and make sure that their practice meets the standards expected in four domains;

1)    Knowledge, skills and performance

2)    Safety and quality

3)    Communication, partnership and teamwork

4)    Maintaining trust

The revalidation of doctors is the biggest change since the GMC published its first medical register 150 years ago. The GMC hopes that doctors whose practice raises concerns will come to their attention before a complaint is made. In 2011, complaints about doctors made to the GMC reached their highest with over 8,000 recorded complaints. During piloting and testing of the revalidation system concerns were raised over the performance of 4.1% of doctors.

Doctors have never before been required to prove their competency after successful registration on the medical register. Despite many professions required heavy assessment, many doctors have led 40 year long careers without ever having their skills and practice formally assessed after their initial registration.

Chair of GMC was the first to revalidate said that “‘I am delighted to be the first doctor in the UK to revalidate. This is the biggest change to medical regulation since the GMC was established in 1858 and change always brings some uncertainty to those it affects. However, to my medical colleagues I’d say that in this age of transparency our patients will expect nothing less.”


Revalidation of doctors –


Image: RGB Freestock