Survey reveals scepticism over revalidation

OVER half of hospital doctors and GPs do not believe revalidation will help identify colleagues who are unfit to practise, according a survey of around 5,600 UK medics.

The survey carried out by doctors.net on behalf of the Press Association found that 53 per cent of hospital doctors and 60 per cent of GPs disagreed that plans for revalidation would help to identify and deal with those who are unfit to practise.

Only 33 per cent of hospital doctors and 28 per cent of GPs agreed that "plans for revalidation will help me maintain a good standard of practice". Asked whether the benefits of revalidation would outweigh the administrative time required for the process, only 18 per cent of hospital doctors and 15 per cent of GPs agree they would.

The survey also found that 86 per cent of hospital doctors and 67 per cent of GPs agreed that there are variations in care and that "there are certain doctors that I would not want to treat friends and family".

Dr Tim Ringrose, chief executive of doctors.net.uk, said: "GPs and hospital doctors seek to uphold the highest possible standards in care, and their willingness to be totally frank about variations in quality demonstrates how keen they are to see continual monitoring and improvement.

"However, while revalidation should help to address such concerns, there is widespread scepticism about its effectiveness.

"Many hard-pressed doctors view it as yet another administrative burden. They do not see it as a safety net for identifying any doctors who are not fit to practise or as a benchmark for ensuring that all patients receive the highest possible levels of care and treatment."

The Press Association survey was released this month ahead of the anniversary of the death of serial killer Harold Shipman.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), responded: "The revalidation system was never designed to catch criminals like Harold Shipman and its introduction was talked about well before his heinous crimes were revealed.

"Instead, revalidation is intended to encourage lifelong learning amongst doctors and lead to a culture of positive professional improvement throughout a medical career.

"Many doctors have been frustrated by the implementation because heavy workload and financial pressures in the NHS leave little time and space for the reflection and quality improvement that revalidation promised."