This is a guest post by Thilakshan Jeyakumar, a gap year student and medical applicant.
Revalidation is a new scheme introduced on 3rd of December 2012 by the General Medical Council (GMC) under which licensed doctors must be able to demonstrate they are up to date and fit to practise. Currently being in its initial phase, the Revalidation programme is mandatory for all 250,000 licensed doctors in the UK. In our late build up to Christmas, Professor Sir Peter Rubin, chair of the GMC, became the first doctor to revalidate successfully. The GMC hope to work down the hierarchy of healthcare, starting with chair members, medical leaders and responsible officers. The GMC expect to have most doctors revalidated by March of 2016 and all doctors to finalise revalidating by March 2018. Though this may sound quite a distance into the future, it should be understood that Revalidation is an added pressure to the already existing busy lifestyle of a doctor.
Interestingly enough, Revalidation is a scheme that the GMC have been planning for years since the Shipman Inquiry. As you may be aware, Harold Shipman was a British family doctor who is known to have killed around 250 of his patients over 23 years and was named as ‘Britain’s most prolific serial killer’. Whilst Shipman was proven guilty in early 2000, the GMC received a lot of media attention and were forced to change its structure into doing more to protect patients. Ever since the series of events, the GMC has been making regular checks on doctors, though Revalidation will now become the official routine of checks.
So what exactly does Revalidation mean for doctors, trainees, students and aspiring medics? Your license will now be at more of a risk if you are not complying with the Good Medical Practice; the principles and values that underpin the medical professionalism in action. As a doctor you will be required to be aware of recent medical advancements and techniques. For junior doctors in training and specialist training, your revalidation will be completed by your designated body, in most cases, your postgraduate deanery. “A gradual learning curve” is a phrase many medical applicants put forward in their application but later forget further in their career, yet it is of such crucial importance in regards to revalidation. For aspiring medics like myself, it will mean that we should be prepared to take on board everything taught at medical school, collect a range of experiences from training and be prepared to accept the future. In the final episodes of a doctor’s career, revalidation can become quite a nail-biting experience.
Aside from the negatives of this article, it should be noted that the effects of revalidation is only speculation as of the time of writing. In regards to the general public, patients will build more trust in their doctors knowing that they have been revalidated. The GMC state the revalidation is aimed to increase the quality of care whilst they also provide online access to the Good Medical Practice to any member of the public to know what to expect from a doctor. As you may be already aware, healthcare and the NHS is constantly under public scrutiny which includes many that opt for private care. Considering that the GMC is not a government bound institution, they are the national regulator for all doctors in the UK, including private doctors. What happens if doctors fail revalidation? Is that the end of their medical career? Or merely an interruption in their time spent on the medical register? Though there are many questions yet to be answered, we have yet to see how revalidation will be rolled out, and 2013 will be a year that marks its initial introduction.