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Introduction to revalidation

An overview of revalidation and the main roles and processes involved.
Term Definition
Doctor Responsible for their own revalidation, including demonstrating that they are sufficiently reflecting on information from their practice, learning and making improvements.  
Appraiser Responsible for facilitating a whole practice appraisal with the doctor.
Responsible officer Usually a senior doctor within a healthcare organisation – often a medical director. The role is set out in statute and includes making sure systems are in place to evaluate doctors' practice on an ongoing basis. This includes making sure their doctors are regularly appraised and there are processes to investigate and refer any fitness to practise concerns to the GMC. They make recommendations to the GMC about each doctor's revalidation. They usually sit on the executive board of the organisation.
Designated body For most doctors the organisation in which they undertake most or all of their practice. They range from large NHS trusts, private hospitals and membership organisations, to smaller independent healthcare providers and locum agencies. They must appoint and resource a responsible officer.
General Medical Council (GMC) The professional regulator of doctors, which is responsible for setting the national framework for revalidation and for making revalidation decisions about individual doctors.
Suitable person A licensed doctor approved by the GMC as suitable to make a recommendation about the revalidation of a doctor who does not have a responsible officer.
Annual return Allows doctors without a connection to provide us with evidence of their engagement with revalidation and their fitness to practise.
Revalidation assessment Allows doctors without a connection to show they meet the required standard for revalidation, in the absence of formal clinical governance arrangements.

What is revalidation?

Revalidation is an evaluation of your fitness to practise.

This process:

  • supports doctors in regularly reflecting on how they can develop or improve their practice
  • gives patients confidence doctors are up to date with their practice
  • promotes improved quality of care by driving improvements in clinical governance.

Every licensed doctor who practises medicine in the UK must revalidate to show they are up to date and fit to practise. The way you revalidate will depend on your revalidation connection type. You can find this out using our connection tool.

Doctors with a connection

Most doctors have a connection and revalidate through a process of annual appraisals based on Good medical practice and a five yearly recommendation from their responsible officer or suitable person. The recommendation is based on the outputs from their appraisals and clinical governance information. We make a revalidation decision based on this recommendation and other information available to us. 

Doctors without a connection

Doctors without a connection to a responsible officer or suitable person revalidate through a process of annual appraisals based on Good medical practice, annual returns submitted to us and a five-yearly assessment. We make a revalidation decision based on the outcomes of these activities.

Doctors in training

Doctors in training revalidate by meeting the requirements of their UK training programme. We make a revalidation decision based on a recommendation from the responsible officer of their training body.

What happens if you don’t take part in revalidation?

If you fail to comply with the requirements of revalidation and to engage with the local processes that underpin it, including appraisal, this will put your licence to practise at risk. You can find more information about how we decide whether you can continue to hold a licence in our guide, Revalidation and the licence to practise: withdrawing, giving up or restoring your licence and licensing appeals.

Concerns about a doctor

Revalidation is not a way to raise or address concerns about a doctor’s practice. Concerns should be raised when they arise, through relevant local governance processes and not through appraisal. Where concerns are serious they should be referred to us through our existing fitness to practise processes.