REVALIDATION for doctors will officially begin in December, the health secretary has confirmed.
The new system of checks, based on annual appraisals, is the biggest change in how doctors are regulated for 150 years. It will be run by the General Medical Council with most doctors expected to have revalidated by March 2016.
The system promises to be the most comprehensive scheme of its kind anywhere in the world with the UK’s 230,000 licensed doctors expected to show they are keeping up to date and are fit to practise.
Health minister Jeremy Hunt said: “Doctors save lives every day and making sure they are up to speed with the latest treatments and technologies will help them save even more. This is why a proper system of revalidation is so important.”
The Department of Health said recent assessments in all four UK countries showed the health systems are ready enough to begin.
A survey published earlier this year by the NHS Revalidation Support Team found almost all GPs were connected with a responsible officer but that 10 per cent of GPs still have not had an appraisal in 2011-12.
Revalidation has been backed by the BMA after agreement was reached over the funding of remediation.
BMA council chair Mark Porter said the association had always supported the principle of revalidation but warned it was important it did not add to the “large amount of bureaucracy already faced by doctors in the NHS”.
He said: “The system soon to be rolled out is much better than the one initially put forward. But we still need to ensure consistency across the UK so that all doctors are working to the same standards.
“And it is vital that sufficient support exists across the UK for those doctors who need it. It is essential that revalidation is reviewed every step of the way so that we can be sure that the system works for patients and for doctors.”
Doctors will start to learn their revalidation dates from December. The GMC is expecting responsible officers, who will oversee revalidation at a local level, and other medical leaders to revalidate first, by March 2013. All doctors should be revalidated by March 2018.