Revalidation “starting to have an impact” says GMC

FOUR out of 10 doctors are changing the way they practise as a result of their last appraisal, according to a three-year study into the impact of revalidation.

Among doctors aged under 50 around half have changed their practice.

These are findings from an interim report on research commissioned by the GMC and carried out by a UK-wide collaboration of researchers, known as UMbRELLA, led by Plymouth University. The report is based on a survey completed by more than 26,000 licensed doctors (16 per cent response rate), along with hundreds of responsible officers and feedback from patient and public representatives.

The report found that 90 per cent of surveyed doctors have had a medical appraisal in their career, 94 per cent of whom had had an appraisal in the previous 12 months. Around a third of doctors said revalidation has improved the appraisal process and over 40 per cent of doctors believe appraisals are effective in helping doctors to improve their clinical practice.

Doctors who obtained patient feedback found it the most helpful information to support reflection on their practice.

But still a majority of responding doctors (57.6 per cent) said they had not made any changes to their clinical practice, professional behaviour or learning activities as a result of their most recent appraisal, compared to 42.4 per cent who said they had made such changes.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said: "We introduced revalidation to provide greater assurance that doctors are up to date and fit to treat patients, and to give them the opportunity regularly to reflect on their practice. We are pleased that the findings from both reports show that revalidation is starting to have an impact. This is encouraging for patients and doctors.

"But we cannot be complacent – both reports highlight issues which show the system can be improved. We want revalidation to be a positive experience and we want to maximise how it can contribute to high quality and safer care. At the same time, we fully understand the pressures that doctors are under and the different context they are working in. We will be taking all this into account as we work with others to shape the future of revalidation."