News

25,000 doctors have their licences renewed in first year of checks

In its first year of operation the new system of checks for doctors practising in the UK has seen nearly 25,000 doctors have their licence revalidated.

When it was introduced in December 2012, the new system of checks became the biggest shake up in medical regulation in more than 150 years. Every doctor registered with a licence to practise in the UK is now legally required to show the General Medical Council (GMC) that they are competent and fit to practise, usually once every five years, to be able to continue treating patients.

More than 10,000 doctors on the GP Register and 12,000 on the Specialist Register have successfully revalidated in the first 12 months.

The system is based on an annual appraisal to which doctors are expected to bring information about their practice over the past year. This evidence includes feedback from patients and colleagues, as well as complaints and compliments. The doctor also needs to provide evidence that they are keeping up to date with advances in clinical practice and guidance.

The decision to revalidate a doctor’s licence is made following a positive recommendation to the GMC from their Responsible Officer – a senior doctor, usually a medical director, who oversees the local system and has to make sure the doctors on his or her list are practising safely and effectively.

Medical leaders – including Professor Sir Peter Rubin, Chair of the GMC and Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director for England – were among the first to be revalidated following introduction of the checks last year.

Niall Dickson, the GMC’s Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“These are very early days but we are pleased with the progress made in the first year. This new system of checks is a world first and over time we believe it will make a significant contribution towards making sure patients in the UK receive safe, effective care.

“Already we see signs that it is making an impact with hospitals and other healthcare organisations recognising their responsibility, not only to make sure all their doctors have the attitude and skills to deliver high quality care, but also that they have the support and information they need to assess and reflect on their practice.

“There is more to do but this is about supporting doctors to provide the best possible care and making sure patients can have confidence in the care their doctors provide. We will develop the model, and we will listen and learn from the experience of those who use it as we do so. But this is a good start.”

The UK is the first country in the world to introduce a system of this kind across its whole healthcare system, covering GPs, hospital doctors, locums and those working in the independent sector. The GMC has already begun work on how to evaluate the system as it rolls out.

Other healthcare regulators have monitored the introduction of the GMC’s system, with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and General Pharmaceutical Council recently announcing plans to introduce their own revalidation checks.

The GMC expects to revalidate around 30,000 doctors by the end of this year and is on target to check most doctors by the end of March 2016.

Ends

News released by the GMC

Notes

  1. Figures included in the release are correct as of midnight 26 November 2013. They cover the period 3 December 2012 to 26 November 2013 – one week before the end of the first full year of revalidation.
  2. The breakdown of revalidation by country and category of doctor is as follows:
Total revalidated England

20,858

NI

736

Scotland

1,923

Wales

1,029

Total

24,550

ROs revalidated England

409

NI

13

Scotland

8

Wales

19

Total

449

Doctors on GP register revalidated England

8,616

NI

282

Scotland

930

Wales

458

Total

10,288

 

  1. The GMC agreed to defer the revalidation of 5,077 doctors from 3 December 2012 to 26 November 2013 following requests from Responsible Officers.

This relatively small proportion was expected – a deferral request is made by a Responsible Officer to provide more time in which to submit a recommendation about the doctor. The system is designed to be flexible to give responsible officers this extra time.

A successful deferral request results in a revised submission date for their recommendation, but within 12 months.

Deferral requests apply to doctors who are:

  • have not been able to gather all the required supporting information by the time the revalidation submission date falls due -= for example this can be the result of parental or sick leave or because the doctor has taken a career break.
  • participating in an on-going local human resources or disciplinary process, the outcome of which the Responsible Officer will need to consider before making their recommendation.

A deferral does not affect the doctor’s licence and he or she can continue to practice.

This is the total breakdown of revalidation deferral requests by country and category of doctor:

Total deferred England 4,591
NI 81
Scotland 265
Wales 140
Total 5,077
Doctors on the GP   register deferred England 1,062
NI 19
Scotland 41
Wales 49
Total 1,171

Please note: When revalidation was introduced doctors in training had their first revalidation date set at their projected Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) date. Since the start of revalidation many of these dates have changed, as expected, and their responsible officer has deferred them to the new anticipated date. Doctors in training represent 57% of the current deferrals of all doctors.

  1. All UK licensed doctors now have their revalidation date from the GMC.
  2. Based on plans developed by the four UK countries, the GMC expects to revalidate:
  • about a fifth of licensed doctors between April 2013 and the end of March 2014
  • the majority of licensed doctors by the end of March 2016
  • all remaining licensed doctors by the end of March 2018.
  1. The GMC has begun to publish data reports about the revalidation decisions it has made. The reports are by country and include all designated bodies in the UK that the GMC has received recommendations from within the reporting period. The first set of data covers the period from the start of revalidation on 3 December 2012 to 30 September 2013 and can be viewed here. Subsequent reports will be published quarterly and the next set of data to be released will cover the period from 1 October 2013 to 31 December 2013. From April 2014 the GMC expects to publish this data monthly.
  2. The GMC has commissioned a team from the Collaboration for the Advancement of Medical Education Research and Assessment (CAMERA) at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry to develop an evaluation framework to assess the impacts of revalidation, taking into account the perspectives of doctors, employers and patients’ groups. The framework will enable the GMC to collect data and monitor the progress of revalidation over the long term.

The General Medical Council is the independent regulator of the UK’s 260,000 doctors.

Our job is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine.

We do this by managing entry to the medical register and setting the educational standards for all UK doctors through medical schools and postgraduate education and training. We also determine the principles and values that underpin good medical practice and we take firm but fair action where those standards have not been met. This role and the powers to do it are given to us by Parliament through the 1983 Medical Act.

We are not here to protect the medical profession – their interests are protected by others. Our job is to protect patients. We are independent of government and the profession and accountable to Parliament.

The GMC Media Relations Office can be contacted on 020 7189 5454, out of hours 020 7189 5444/ 07920 461497, email press@gmc-uk.org.

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