Regular checks on doctors begin

Press Release

03 Dec 2012

Radical changes to the way doctors are checked to ensure they are safe to treat patients came into force today.

This is an important day for doctors and patients. We are confident that over time revalidation will make a significant contribution to the quality of care that patients receive.

Professor Sir Peter Rubin, Chair of the GMC

The new system of checks - known as revalidation - will be run by the General Medical Council (GMC) and means the UK's 230,000 licensed doctors are now legally required to show they are keeping up to date and are fit to practise.

The new system is based on an annual appraisal and the information doctors will collect about their practice, including feedback from patients, doctors, nurses and other colleagues.

The UK is the first country in the world to introduce such a system across its whole healthcare system, covering GPs, hospital doctors, locums and those working in the independent sector. To keep their licence to practise, doctors will be required to revalidate on a regular basis, usually every five years.

To kick off the new checks, the GMC will today start writing to 13,000 doctors telling them when they will revalidate. The rest of the UK’s licensed doctors will be written to by the end of January 2013. The GMC expects to revalidate the majority of licensed doctors by March 2016, with medical leaders expected to go first.

Professor Sir Peter Rubin, Chair of the GMC, who will be one of the first doctors to revalidate, said:

‘This is an important day for doctors and patients. We are confident that over time revalidation will make a significant contribution to the quality of care that patients receive and should give them increased confidence that the doctors who treat them are up to date.’

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:

‘Today is a momentous day - as doctors in the UK become the first in the world to have regular assessments to ensure that their training and expertise are up to date and that they remain fit to carry out their important role of providing high quality care for patients.

‘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. This is why a proper system of revalidation is so important.’