Regulating doctors, ensuring good medical practice

Revalidation date set for 2012

Press Release

18 Oct 2010

Medical revalidation in the UK is expected to start from late 2012, according to a joint statement from the General Medical Council and the health departments in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Today’s statement is very significant. We are now moving into the implementation phase and the commitment of the administrations in every part of the UK to drive this forward is critical.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council

The GMC and the four administrations say they are committed to introducing revalidation and that they will work together to ensure all systems are ready by the summer of 2012. 

The statement (pdf) sets out key milestones that employers will need to meet before revalidation is introduced. Responsible Officers¹ will need to be in post across the UK and all doctors will need to be taking part in an appraisal process. It also says there will need to be agreement on the supporting information doctors will bring to their annual appraisal.

In a separate report, the GMC has published details of the feedback from its consultation on revalidation. Most of those who responded supported the principle and the key proposals but there were some concerns about how it would work in practice. Many suggested that the model needed to be simpler; a view shared by the GMC which has agreed that its final proposals should be as straightforward, proportionate and cost-effective as possible.

Almost nine in ten respondents agreed that revalidation should be based on a continuing evaluation of a doctor’s performance in the workplace. There were similar levels of support for the plan to move away from the twin processes of relicensing and recertification which had been proposed in the original White Paper in 2007. The main area of concern was around the supporting information doctors would need to bring to their appraisal.

In its response, the GMC undertook to:

  • Streamline the process - by reviewing the specialty and general practice frameworks to identify what  information is expected and what is optional
  • Make the process more flexible - by developing proposals for how revalidation will work for non-mainstream doctors and continuing to engage with them and their organisations
  • Add more detail – further define what information will be available on the medical register and explore options around quality assurance
  • Learn what works best for doctors and employers - by learning from the experiences of the pilots
  • Start to plan for implementation - by working with partners to map out the process, timelines and key milestones for implementation.

Niall Dickson, the Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said: "Today’s statement is very significant. We are now moving into the implementation phase and the commitment of the administrations in every part of the UK to drive this forward is critical. Patients, quite rightly, expect their doctors to undergo regular checks and we are all committed to making sure we have the right system in place to make this happen.

“We will continue to listen and learn from individual doctors and from the piloting to make sure we have a system that is robust but also straightforward and cost-effective.”

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley added: "I would like to thank the GMC for the work they have done to address the issues raised following their consultation.

"Through revalidation, we will be able to reassure patients and the public that doctors working in the UK are safe and fit to practise. We are committed to developing a system of revalidation that meets the needs of doctors, patients and the public.

"The extra time for piloting will make sure we can test and streamline the system and get it right. Revalidation will build on systems already in place to support high quality care and increase patients' confidence in their doctors."


Notes to Editors:

¹ Responsible Officers will recommend to the GMC which doctors should be revalidated.

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The General Medical Council registers and licenses doctors to practise medicine in the UK. Our purpose is summed up in the phrase: Regulating doctors, Ensuring Good Medical Practice.

The law gives us four main functions:

• keeping up-to-date registers of qualified doctors
• fostering good medical practice
• promoting high standards of medical education and training
• dealing firmly and fairly with doctors whose fitness to practise is in doubt