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Section 5: About recommendations of non-engagement

This page is in Section 5: Recommendations of non-engagement – part of the GMC's guide for Responsible Officers and Suitable Persons on making revalidation recommendations.

5.1.1 What is non-engagement in revalidation?

Under regulation 4(3)(a) of the Licence to practise regulations, the GMC may withdraw a doctor’s licence where that doctor has failed, ‘without reasonable excuse’, to comply with our revalidation guidance.

A doctor is not engaging in revalidation where, in the absence of reasonable circumstances, they:

  • do not participate in the local processes and systems that support revalidation on an ongoing basis
  • do not participate in the formal revalidation process.

A doctor is engaging in revalidation when they:

  • participate in the local systems and processes that support revalidation, including annual appraisal
  • participate in the formal revalidation process described in the Licence to practise regulations.

It is for you to determine whether there are reasonable circumstances that explain why a doctor is not engaging in revalidation.

If you are unsure about whether reasonable circumstances exist, you should consult the GMC’s criteria for deferral requests (see Section 4.2). If the doctor’s situation meets these criteria then a notification of non-engagement is not appropriate.

5.1.2 Informing the GMC of non-engagement before notice is issued

You can inform the GMC outside the statutory notice period that a doctor has failed to participate in the local processes that underpin revalidation. You should do this by contacting the ELA for your region.

This sits outside of the formal revalidation process described in the Licence to practise regulations. It enables you to tell us that you do not envisage being able to make a recommendation to revalidate the doctor when it comes due, on account of the doctor’s failure to engage or engage adequately in the revalidation process.

When you tell us of a doctor’s failure to engage, we will write to the doctor to remind them that they are obliged to participate in the ongoing processes that support revalidation in order to maintain their licence to practise.

If a doctor does not begin to engage with the processes that support revalidation, the GMC can bring forward the issue of notice to a doctor. This will bring forward the submission date, and you can then make a formal recommendation of non-engagement.

You cannot submit a formal recommendation of non-engagement before the doctor has been issued notice by the GMC.

5.1.3 Making a formal recommendation of non-engagement

After the doctor has been issued notice you cannot use the process described in section 5.1.2 to inform the GMC of non-engagement. During the notice period, non-engagement can only be communicated to the GMC through a formal recommendation of non-engagement.

A recommendation of non-engagement in revalidation is a formal recommendation about a doctor’s revalidation. It is a communication from you to the GMC that states that, following the issue of notice, a doctor has not engaged in the systems and processes that support the revalidation process, or the level of engagement is insufficient to support a recommendation to revalidate.

If you think that you may need to make a recommendation of non-engagement, you should discuss this with the employer liaison adviser for your area or the revalidation team.

Your recommendation of non-engagement must reach us by the doctor's submission date.

5.1.4 What the recommendation of non-engagement statements ask you to confirm

The recommendation statements focus on a doctor’s failure to engage with the local systems and processes that support revalidation.

The recommendation statements ask you to confirm that you have incomplete information on which to base a recommendation to revalidate because a doctor has failed to engage with the systems and processes that support revalidation, or the level of the doctor's engagement is insufficient to support a recommendation to revalidate.

Our ability to withdraw a licence on the grounds of non-engagement derives from the Licence to practise regulations. The doctor must have failed to follow our revalidation guidance to such an extent that you find that you are unable to make, or envisage making, a recommendation.

You should only submit a recommendation of non-engagement to the GMC once you have exhausted all local systems and policies available to you to facilitate or encourage the doctor to engage. The non-engagement process is a regulatory response that should only be used once management responses have been fully exploited.

When you submit a recommendation of non-engagement to the GMC you must agree with all of the non-engagement recommendation statements.

Non-engagement and concerns about doctors’ fitness to practise

The recommendation statements ask you to confirm that you have raised any unaddressed concerns about a doctor’s fitness to practise with the GMC or the relevant body, as appropriate.

As previously stated, recommendations of non-engagement are not a mechanism through which concerns about doctors’ fitness to practise can be raised with the GMC. If you become aware of concerns about a doctor’s fitness to practise at any point in the revalidation cycle, these should be referred to the GMC through the existing processes for raising concerns.