The GMC protocol for making revalidation recommendations

Making a recommendation part 3

2.3 GMC fitness to practise proceedings

2.3.1 Doctors who are involved in a fitness to practise investigation

If we’re investigating a licensed doctor’s fitness to practise when they are due to revalidate:

  • they must continue to engage with revalidation, as far as is possible
  • we will not issue notice to the doctor or accept recommendations about their revalidation.

Our investigation team will be in contact if a doctor becomes involved in a fitness to practise investigation after you have submitted your recommendation, but before we have made our decision. 

Following the conclusion of an investigation, if the doctor remains licensed and their revalidation date has already passed, we may write to you and the doctor advising of their new submission date.

2.4 Recommendations where a doctor has raised public interest concerns

2.4.1 Discussing the situation with your ELA

You should contact your ELA to discuss the situation before making any non-engagement or consecutive deferral recommendations for a doctor who has raised a public interest concern (PIC). You can discuss this with your ELA at any time and don’t need to wait until you are due to submit your recommendation.

In addition to your normal record keeping for your recommendations, you should keep a record of any information relating to PICs raised by the doctor. It may be useful to have this information to hand when discussing the situation with your ELA.

The discussion with your ELA will include:

  • the nature of the doctor’s PIC, including how it was raised and how it is being handled locally
  • any potential conflict of interest between you and the doctor and whether advice should be sought from higher levels of governance within your organisation
  • whether any ongoing processes relating to the doctor’s PIC are impacting engagement with the revalidation process. 

The discussion will be recorded, and the ELA will feed the information back to our revalidation team

We understand that you may not always be aware that a doctor has raised a PIC. We don’t expect you to create extra systems for obtaining this information, but you may want to review existing systems to check you would be routinely informed of any PICs raised by your doctors.

2.4.2 Submitting your recommendation

You should submit your recommendation for the doctor in the usual way and do not need to provide any additional information.

You will be required to confirm that you have had a discussion with your ELA, and that the fact that the doctor has raised PICs has had no bearing on your recommendation.

If you become aware that a doctor has raised PICs after you have made your recommendation you should contact our revalidation team or your ELA to discuss this.

2.4.3 Other information we might need

Where a doctor informs us that they have raised a PIC and you were unaware of this, we will ask the doctor to tell us: 

  1. how they believe this has impacted on their ability to engage with clinical governance and appraisal as part of revalidation, and 
  2. whether they believe it has had a bearing on the recommendation you have submitted.

We may then need you to provide further information to help us understand the context of the doctor’s PIC and whether it has affected their ability to meet the requirements for revalidation.

2.4.4 How we respond to a recommendation where a doctor has raised PICs

Recommendation to defer

We may seek further information from you about any on-going local process before processing the recommendation. For example, where a doctor has raised a PIC and you need to make a subsequent consecutive deferral recommendation (see section 5.3).

Recommendation of non-engagement

If you make a recommendation of non-engagement (see section 6), the doctor will be given the opportunity to respond to this before we make a decision about whether to withdraw their licence.

If they tell us that they have raised a PIC and this has affected their ability to engage with revalidation we will usually share the doctor’s response with you and, if required, ask you for further information. Any information you give us will be shared with the doctor.

2.5 If you make an incorrect recommendation

It is important that the recommendations you make are accurate and reliable. However, it is possible that your recommendation may be incorrect due to:

  • administrative errors
  • new information coming to light after the recommendation was made. 

If an incorrect submission is made you must:

  • contact our revalidation team as soon as possible to discuss next steps
  • inform the doctor of the error
  • review your systems and processes to mitigate the risk of this happening again.

2.6 Concerns about the reliability of recommendations

Occasionally, we receive information about the reliability of revalidation recommendations, such as concerns raised about local clinical governance or about responsible officers or suitable persons. In these cases we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that revalidation recommendations are reliable, which may include involvement of the high level RO or even suspending the processing of recommendations. We will record any actions taken on our systems, and may look at it again if we receive subsequent concerns. For support or further information, please contact our Outreach or Revalidation team.

2.7 Changing a doctor's submission date

You can ask us to change a doctor’s submission date, but this must be agreed by us before the doctor’s submission date.

  • If a doctor under notice needs more time to meet the revalidation requirements, and there are reasonable circumstances to account for this, you can make a recommendation to defer their submission date (see section 5).
  • In exceptional cases we may change a doctor’s submission date to a later date when they are not under notice.
  • If a doctor is failing to engage with revalidation you can ask us to bring forward their submission date at any time, to allow you to make a recommendation of non-engagement (see section 6).