The United Kingdom's Experience With and Future Plans for Revalidation

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Assuring fitness to practice for doctors internationally is increasingly complex. In the United Kingdom, the General Medical Council (GMC) has recently launched revalidation, which has been designed to bring all doctors into a governed environment. Since December 2012, all doctors who wish to practice are required to submit and reflect on supporting documentation against a framework of best practice, Good Medical Practice. These documents are brought together in an annual appraisal. Evidence of practice includes clinical governance activities such as significant events, complaints and audits, continuing professional development and feedback from colleagues and patients. Revalidation has been designed to support professionalism and identify early doctors in difficulty to support their remediation and so assure patient safety. The appraiser decides annually if the doctor has met the standard which is shared with the most senior doctor in the area, the responsible officer (RO). The RO's role is to make a recommendation for revalidation every 5 years for each doctor to the GMC. Revalidation is unique in that it is national, compulsory, involves all doctors regardless of position or training, and is linked to the potentially performance moderating process of appraisal. However, it has a long and troubled history that is shaped by high-profile medical scandals and delays from the profession, the GMC, and the government. Revalidation has been complicated further by rhetoric around patient care and driving up standards but at the same time identifying poor performance. The GMC have responded by commissioning a national evaluation which is currently under development.

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