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Editor's blog Monday 18 October 2010: Revalidation - once more unto the breech position

Here we go again, again.

Another attempt at getting revalidation of doctors off the ground is hoping to fly by the summer of 2012. Truly timely: it has thus far proven an Olympian task.

Is the GMC going to be up to it this time?

The historical omens are not great, clearly, with so many previous iterations not making it to full term. The GMC web page describes how many respondents to the consultation "suggested that the model needed to be simpler; a view shared by the GMC which has agreed that its final proposals should be as straightforward, proportionate and cost-effective as possible.

"Almost nine in ten respondents agreed that revalidation should be based on a continuing evaluation of a doctor's performance in the workplace. There were similar levels of support for the plan to move away from the twin processes of relicensing and recertification which had been proposed in the original White Paper in 2007. The main area of concern was around the supporting information doctors would need to bring to their appraisal.

"In its response, the GMC undertook to:
Streamline the process - by reviewing the specialty and general practice frameworks to identify what  information is expected and what is optional
Make the process more flexible - by developing proposals for how revalidation will work for non-mainstream doctors and continuing to engage with them and their organisations
Add more detail - further define what information will be available on the medical register and explore options around quality assurance
Learn what works best for doctors and employers - by learning from the experiences of the pilots
Start to plan for implementation - by working with partners to map out the process, timelines and key milestones for implementation"

In a last-quarter candidate for understatement of the year, GMC supremo Niall Dixon states, "Patients, quite rightly, expect their doctors to undergo regular checks".

As the RCP rather gloriously underplays it, "Plans for periodic revalidation of doctors in the UK have been under discussion for many years. However, the current proposals for the introduction of revalidation were triggered specifically by The Shipman Inquiry, chaired by Dame Janet Smith. This inquiry concluded that the NHS and GMC did not have the systems or culture in place that would have allowed conduct such as that of Shipman to be detected, and that current appraisal processes were of variable quality and effectiveness".

Here's hoping. In a muted kind of way.