Glossary - revalidation

Term Definition
Annual return

Doctors without a connection submit evidence to the GMC each year. This demonstrates their engagement with the revalidation process.

Appraisee A doctor undergoing an appraisal.

An annual meeting between a doctor and a specially trained individual (called an appraiser). Doctors gather information from their whole scope of practice and review this at appraisal to demonstrate they are continuing to meet the standards of Good Medical Practice.


Specially trained individuals who review the supporting information gathered for revalidation, facilitating discussion and prompting reflection across the appraisee’s whole scope of practice.


A group of individuals (including non-executive directors) responsible for leading an organisation and ensuring the delivery and assurance of clinical governance processes. 

Clinical governance

An overarching term for the arrangements through which organisations are accountable for continuously monitoring and improving the safety and quality of clinical services. There are many processes and activities which support clinical governance for doctors, for example: 

  • appraisal and professional development
  • identifying, responding to and sharing concerns
  • managing complaints and incidents
  • monitoring performance and fitness to practise
  • pre-employment checks
  • quality assurance and improvement of local governance processes
  • information governance
  • clinical audit
  • risk management.

A link that is established in the relevant regulations between a doctor and a designated body or suitable person.

Designated body

An organisation that is required to appoint and resource a responsible officer for revalidation. Designated bodies support and facilitate the revalidation process for doctors. They include:

  • NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts
  • NHS England
  • Health Boards in Wales and Scotland
  • Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland
  • Independent healthcare providers and locum agencies

Our Connection Tool and list of organisations can help you find your designated body. 

General Medical Council (GMC)

We work with doctors, patients, and other stakeholders to support good, safe patient care across the UK. We set the standards doctors and those who train them need to meet, and help them achieve them. If there are concerns these standards may not be met or that public confidence in doctors may be at risk, we can investigate, and take action if needed.

Responsible officer

Experienced senior doctors who are responsible for making sure that doctors with a connection to their designated body are competent in what they are doing and fully up to date. They make recommendations to the GMC about each of their doctor's revalidation.  Responsible officers work with us to ensure:

  • systems are in place to evaluate doctors' practice
  • doctors have regular appraisals
  • there are processes to investigate and refer any fitness to practise concerns to the GMC.

We use this information to decide whether doctors continue to meet the standards we set. 


Revalidation is a process that ensures licensed doctors are:

  • fit to practice 
  • keeping their knowledge up to date 

Doctors must revalidate to keep their licence to practise in the UK.

Revalidation assessment

A knowledge test to allow doctors without a connection to show they meet the required standard for revalidation.

Suitable person

A licensed doctor approved by the GMC to make revalidation recommendations about a doctor who does not have a responsible officer.

See our list of approved suitable persons

Whole scope of practice

All the places a doctor has worked, and the roles they have carried out which require a licence to practise, in the UK since their last appraisal. This includes:

  • clinical roles
  • non-clinical roles such as educational, research, academic, managerial or leadership roles
  • NHS, independent sector, voluntary and private work.