The new health secretary has told the GMC to delay the roll out of revalidation for another year until the pilot studies have been properly assessed.
In a letter to GMC chairman Professor Peter Rubin, Andrew Lansley says more time is needed ‘to develop a clearer understanding of the costs, benefits and practicalities of implementation’.
It follows speculation that revalidation was going to be jettisoned by the Department of Health as part of public sector spending cuts.
Lansley expresses support for its principles saying ‘if implemented sensitively and effectively, [revalidation] is something that will support all doctors in their innate professional desire to improve the practice still further’.
He continues: ‘We need strong evidence on what works for both patients and the profession to ensure that this is the case.’
Doctors were issued with licenses to practise in November 2009, and full revalidation was expected to be rolled out in late 2010 and early 2011. Lansley calls for the GMC to ‘pace’ revalidation ‘in a way that is affordable, supports high quality care and makes effective use of doctors’ time’.
The BMA recently said it had no confidence in the proposals for revalidation as they currently stand.
Commenting on the delay, Stephen Campion, chief executive of the HCSA, said: “I agree with the Secretary of State that we need strong evidence on what works for both patients and the profession before embarking on a national system that simply may not deliver.
“The early signs are that revalidation as proposed will be costly, bureaucratic, and cumbersome. The Secretary of State’s wish to see the expectations of patients and the profession introduced with sensitivity and effectiveness is perhaps refreshing.”
Responding to the letter, Prof Peter Rubin, chair of the GMC, said it was a “positive move” and a sign of “real commitment” to revalidation.
He continued: “Today the Secretary of State announced that the government will press ahead immediately with the introduction of Responsible Officers who will oversee the system of revalidation locally. He also made it clear that all this must be based on strong local arrangements for organising and monitoring clinical care both in hospitals and GP surgeries.
“The decision to extend piloting of revalidation in England will ensure that these systems are sufficiently robust without being burdensome or bureaucratic for doctors or employers.”
The GMC’s consultation on revalidation closes at the end of this week.
Read the letter in full.