Revalidation of Doctors - Health Committee Contents

Written evidence from the Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) (REV 22)

The Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) welcomes the opportunity to provide written evidence to the Select Committee on the Revalidation of Doctors which aims to provide a safeguard policy of proactively ensuring that general practitioners who are registered in practice are still safe and competent to do so.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is the academic organisation in the UK for general practitioners. Its aim is to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the "voice" of general practitioners on education, training and issues around standards of care for patients.

The College in Scotland came into existence in 1953 (one year after the UK College), when a Scottish Council was created to take forward the College's interests within the Scottish Health Service. We currently represent over 4500 GP members and Associates in Training throughout Scotland. In addition to a base in Edinburgh, the College in Scotland is represented through five regional faculty offices in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee and Glasgow.

The Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) supports the views provided by Professor Amanda Howe, Honorary Secretary of Council in written evidence, submitted on behalf of RCGP, and the following is a summary of the points contained within that document:

1.  The Royal College of General Practitioners strongly supports the introduction of revalidation for doctors. Revalidation will offer the public, health professionals, managers, employers and the state reassurance that every doctor is keeping up to date and remains fit to practice. In addition it will encourage doctors to reflect on their standards of care, strive for improvement; and identify any underperformance at an early stage when intervention is most likely to be effective and feasible.

2.  In supporting revalidation, we recognise some significant challenges exist. Revalidation for doctors must be fit for the purpose; fair and equitable to all doctors; achievable with minimal disruption to the delivery of healthcare; and applicable to all doctors whatever their chosen career pathway.

3.  Revalidation must be as simple and explicable as possible, while still achieving its stated objectives. For this reason we wish to achieve:

  • A common definition of the supporting information normally required from all doctors regardless of their specialty.
  • The simplification of mapping of the supporting information for revalidation and the appraiser sign off.
  • The processes and tools for Colleague Surveys and Patient Surveys should be clarified.

4.  Annual appraisal is evolving, but it must become a more robust assessment of information on a doctor's performance, using a common set of supporting information.

5.  Local clinical governance must be an effective system that responds appropriately to concerns raised through appraisals or through other routes.

6.  There are a number of unresolved issues arising from Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS that threaten the overall integrity of revalidation including the location and organisation of:

  • The maintenance of the Performers List (the local register of GPs).
  • Clinical Governance and patient safety.
  • The Responsible Officer.
  • Processes for addressing concerns about the performance of individual doctors or teams, including a definition of the nature of the problem and the actions to address it, support/remediation and reintegration.

In addition to the above, RCGP Scotland would also like to offer the following views for consideration when concluding the policy on revalidation.

(a)  At present, still in the early stages of revalidation tools development, Colleges, NHS agencies and Academies are endeavouring to meet the criteria as set out by the Select Committee. Collaboration and communication between these agencies regarding the development and access to their revalidation tools system could afford great merit in ensuring the interoperability of tools, both existing and for future design. Standardised and compatible access process and input procedure could result in a more powerful and accessible tool for all users.

(b)  Finally, RCGP Scotland welcomes the Secretary of State's announcement to extend the piloting of revalidation by a year meaning that it will not now be fully implemented until 2012 at the earliest and we strongly feel that taking the time to ensure the system is relevant, accessible and user-friendly will pay dividends for the general practitioners and patients alike.

We hope you find these comments useful.

November 2010

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