Frequently asked questions for suitable persons

I want to apply to become a suitable person. What should I do?

First, you need to read the guidance on our website to check you’re eligible to become a suitable person. If you think you are eligible, call us and we’ll carry out a pre assessment with you. If you broadly meet the criteria, we’ll send you an application form to complete so we can make a decision about whether to approve you to become a suitable person.

Which doctors can I be a suitable person for?

You must have a clearly defined and logical link to the doctors you want to act as a suitable person for. You should be able to provide robust, objective and verifiable evidence in your application about the link, and provide assurance about your suitability to make recommendations.

When we approve your application, we’ll agree which cohort or cohorts of doctors you can be a suitable person for. A cohort is a group of doctors who have a shared characteristic in their work. For example, doctors who work for a specific organisation or are members of a Faculty. You may only make recommendations for the cohorts you are approved for.

We can’t help you to find groups of doctors to be a suitable person for.

What local governance systems and processes do I need access to?

A suitable person must have formal arrangements to be able to access all the information that is needed to make a recommendation about a doctor. This includes having procedures in place so you can:

  • be informed about any concerns
  • obtain a record of fitness to practise evaluations
  • have evidence of participation in annual appraisals.

We have a handbook about effective governance to support revalidation which sets out our requirements in terms of systems and processes. The criteria for recognising a suitable person and our guidance on approving an individual as a suitable person also provides more detail about the information you must be able to access.

As part of your application you will have to provide evidence showing how you will meet these requirements.

What guidance and support do you have for suitable persons?

As a suitable person, all guidance for Responsible Officers applies to you, and you should be familiar with all of this guidance.

We also have a section on our web site for suitable persons.

Twice a year, we have a suitable person reference group. This gives you the opportunity to network with colleagues, and in particular, you may find it useful to talk with an experienced suitable person at the meeting. You can also talk to your employer liaison adviser too.

Do I have to pay a fee for you to look at my application?


How long does it take you to make a decision?

If you complete your application fully and we don’t need any more information from you, it shouldn’t take longer than two months.

What happens when I’m approved?

We’ll send you an email when we approve your application confirming you are an approved suitable person for a specific cohort or cohorts of doctors. We will also add your information to the list of suitable persons on our web site.

If I’m approached by a doctor to become their suitable person, can I just agree to do this?

If the doctor’s practice falls within your approved cohort, you can add them to your list using your GMC Connect account.

If they do not fall within your approved cohort, you will need to make a new application to be approved for that doctor or the cohort they belong to.

How do I add doctors to my list in GMC Connect?

You can find how to add a doctor at question 7.3 in the GMC connect user guide on our website.

Is there a limit to the number of doctors I can be a suitable person for?

No, but you must be confident you can make a revalidation recommendation for each of your doctors on time. You need to have the appropriate systems and processes in place to support the number of doctors you will be making recommendations for. You should review your arrangements, and make sure you can accommodate a doctor before agreeing to act for them.

How do doctors know who can be a suitable person for them?

A doctor who does not have a connection to a designated body might know a Responsible Officer or a doctor who holds a similar position. They may approach that person and ask them to be a suitable person for them. If they agree, that person would need to apply to us to become an approved suitable person.

Alternatively, the doctor may know a doctor who is already a suitable person, and they can approach them about being their suitable person.

A doctor who falls within my cohort has approached me to be their suitable person, but there is a conflict of interest. What should I do?

You can’t make a recommendation for a doctor when there is a conflict of interest. Guidance about conflicts of interest and appearance of bias are set out in the guidance that accompanies the Responsible Officer regulations.

Can I charge a doctor for being their suitable person?

You may wish to charge a fee. We can’t tell you what the fee should be, but would suggest charging for your time to carry out the responsibilities to perform the role. You should decide the fee you are going to charge, tell the doctor what it is, and make sure they accept this before you agree to act as their suitable person.

What do I need to do to remain a suitable person?

We will carry out checks regularly to make sure you continue to meet the criteria to be a suitable person. This will be a combination of operational checks and a self declaration. You can read more in our guidance about remaining a suitable person.

We also hold suitable person reference groups at our offices in London and Manchester, usually twice a year. This is a good opportunity to meet other suitable persons, and talk about challenges and share best practice. We’ll invite you to these meetings and would strongly recommend you attend where you can.

Is attendance at the suitable person reference group compulsory?

No, but we would encourage you to attend, and it is one of the factors we look at when carrying out checks to make sure you still meet the criteria to be a suitable person.