MPs warn the GMC that revalidation is only the beginning

30 November 2012

Health Committee publishes the report of its 2012 Accountability Hearing with the General Medical Council.

Launching a report of its 2012 annual accountability hearing with the General Medical Council on the same day the medical professional regulator’s new revalidation scheme first takes legal effect nationwide, Stephen Dorrell, Chair of the Health Committee said,

"After a decade of delays we welcome the implementation of the GMC's long standing commitment to five-yearly revalidation of practising doctors. It is important to recognise, however, that – as the GMC itself has made clear – today’s welcome development is only the beginning.

All doctors now need to consider the implications for them of the GMC’s commitment to develop an effective process of revalidation which underwrites the quality of patient care. We welcome the fact that the GMC is rightly concerned to be fair to all doctors, but the purpose of the system is to give patients the guarantee that any doctor practicing medicine in the UK delivers high quality and up to date medical care."

In a report which welcomes the role taken by the GMC to define and apply effective standards for the medical profession and provide professional leadership, the Health Committee also calls for revision of the European legislation which currently prohibits language testing of doctors on a national basis, and asks the Government to set out the steps it is taking to secure revision of the relevant directive.

Commenting on this issue, Stephen Dorrell added,

"Last year the Committee welcomed the arrangements which were put in place by the government to address this problem in the short term, but underlined the priority which it believes the Government should attach to securing a change in the European legislation which undermines the quality of medical care across the continent. There is no substitute for reforming the European legislation that prevents adequate testing of EU nationals who want to work in the UK medical system and we are disappointed that no progress has been made on this issue."

The report also:

  • Welcomes the outcome of the Law Commission’s consultation on professional regulation in the health and care sector, which proposed a formal role for the Health Committee in the accountability structures for such regulators.
  • Calls on the GMC to maintain its role as owner and leader of the revalidation process, and to actively monitor and upgrade the operation of the new system as it is implemented.
  • Calls on all organisations which employ doctors to develop formal and effective procedures for reskilling, rehabilitation and ‘remediation’ of practice among medical staff where deficiencies are identified.
  • Calls on the GMC to clarify – as a matter of urgency – arrangements for informing patients of circumstances where a doctor has been required to undertake ‘remediation’ measures.
  • Calls on the GMC to make its target to complete 90% of its fitness-to practise cases more challenging by lowering it from 15 to 12 months.
  • Warns that the revalidation requirement for doctors to seek feedback from their patients at least once every five years is insufficiently challenging, and calls for a target frequency which will provide greater assurance to patients that their doctors will regularly seek and reflect on their views.

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