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Patient groups urge government to implement revalidation this year

Authors: Caroline White 

Publication date:  11 Aug 2012


Patient representative groups have urged the government to “green light” revalidation without further delay, on the grounds that patients need to know that the doctor treating them is competent and safe to practise.

The system of checks of a doctor’s competence and fitness to practise every five years is scheduled to start at the end of this year, with a statement to this effect expected from the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, in the autumn.

In a joint statement sent to Lansley, nine patient organisations—including the Patients Association, the National Association of LINks [local involvement networks] Members, and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Patient/Lay Group—have backed the scheme and urged the health secretary to ensure that the end of year deadline is met.[1]

Although they express some reservations about the scope and frequency of patient feedback included in revalidation, they nevertheless agree that the scheme will give patients the additional assurance they need about those who treat them, especially as many patients are under the impression that these sorts of checks are already in place.

“Revalidation will be an important statement that a doctor is competent in their area of practice. We recognise the contribution that revalidation can make over time to the quality and safety of care that patients receive,” the statement says.

“We trust that the Secretary of State for Health will make this decision with the views and interests of patients paramount by ensuring there is no further delay in revalidating doctors’ licences,” it adds.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council, welcomed the patient groups’ expression of support for the scheme, which, he said, “shows the importance of revalidation to patients across the UK. This is what patients expect to happen and these organisations are rightly calling for no further delay.”

Not only would the new system prove that a doctor was good and up to date but it would also ensure their employers provided doctors with the support and information they needed to practise safely, he said.

“We have been talking about this reform for more than 10 years. Now we need to get on with it,” he added.

References

  1. National Voices and other groups. Medical revalidation: a statement of support from UK patient organisations. 16 Jul 2012. www.gmc-uk.org/Medical_revalidation___a_statement_of_support_from_UK_patient_organisations_FINAL.pdf_49303617.pdf.

Caroline White BMJ

 cwhite@bmj.com

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