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Support with appraisals and revalidation for GPs

Post date: 04/07/2017 | Time to read article: 5 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 06/01/2020

If you’re not careful revalidation can take up more time, money and energy than you expect.

We’ve put together a GP revalidation guide to make it easier to follow and help you get the evidence you need.

This part gives you more information about how revalidation works and some practical tips to help you plan and prepare.

We have also created a help helpful step-by-step walk-though directory of the GMC framework for appraisal and revalidation and the Medical Protection resources you can use for each attribute. To access this now click the button below.

Access our revalidation directory

Don’t forget to bookmark this page so you can quickly track down useful resources in future. We’ll keep updating the guide with any new learning materials and workshops we develop.

Keep reading to work through the information below or use the links below to go straight to a particular topic. 

What is revalidation?
How does it work?
How should doctors prepare for revalidation?
Practical tips
Continuing Professional Development

What is revalidation?

Revalidation is the process by which all doctors who wish to retain their licences must demonstrate to the GMC that they are up to date, fit to practise and complying with relevant professional standards.

If you hold a licence to practise, you are now legally required to revalidate, usually every five years, by having a regular appraisal based on the GMC core guidance for doctors, Good Medical Practice.

All NHS performers’ lists have appointed responsible officers. They are asked to consider whether doctors have participated adequately at annual appraisal and ensure there are no concerns about doctors. They will make a recommendation to the GMC regarding each doctor. Following a successful recommendation to the GMC, doctors will have their licences to practise renewed.

In most circumstances, licensed doctors will revalidate at five-year intervals after their first revalidation. The GMC has set out its generic requirements for medical practice, revalidation and appraisal in three main documents:

How does it work?

All qualified GPs should be participating in annual appraisal. They will be collecting supporting information for each appraisal, and for revalidation this information will be submitted to responsible officers who will make their recommendations to the GMC.

For newly-qualified GPs, the appraisal and revalidation process starts from the date of completion of training and receiving the certificate of completion of training (CCT).

The deanery will no longer be the designated body. Doctors must ensure they are registered on the performers’ list as qualified GPs.

Newly-qualified GPs should arrange to have their first annual appraisal between 9 and 15 months after receipt of their CCT. They should contact the GMC to be allocated a revalidation date.

How should doctors prepare for revalidation?

Doctors must participate in annual appraisal. Appraisal is designed to support revalidation, such that, within a five-year cycle, doctors should have presented and discussed all the supporting information required for revalidation within their appraisals. 

The GMC has outlined the minimum requirements for revalidation as follows:

  • Documentation of personal information, personal development plans (PDPs), details of previous annual appraisals and the probity and health declarations signed for each appraisal year.
  • A minimum of 50 CPD learning credits per year and a documented discussion of CPD at each appraisal. 
  • Significant event analyses (SEAs) should be discussed at each appraisal. Most GPs are likely to have been recording SEAs for several years, as this has been a contractual requirement. The emphasis is on the content of the SEA and what doctors have learnt and how they have changed their practice, rather than the actual number of SEAs.
  • Evidence of quality improvement activities (QIA) within the previous five years. A full cycle audit completed within the previous five years may be appropriate. If submitting case reviews, then these should perhaps be more frequent. Doctors are encouraged to discuss this with their appraisers.
  • Completion of a colleague multi-source feedback (MSF) within the five years before the date of revalidation.
  • A patient satisfaction survey documented within the five years prior to revalidation.
  • Discussion of any formal complaints at every appraisal.

These are very much the minimum requirements for revalidation – most doctors will have done more than this. If doctors have any doubts regarding the adequacy of their evidence for revalidation, they are encouraged to discuss this with their appraisers at an early stage.

It is important to collect information throughout the year and not to leave everything until the deadline, although due to the hectic nature of being a doctor some last minute work to prepare the documentation will be needed.

While not compulsory for most, Medical Protection recommends that all doctors structure their appraisals round the Good Medical Practice Framework for Appraisal and Revalidation (which is compulsory for those in Scotland). Our revalidations resources will help you match your evidence to the framework.

Practical tips

Dr Rachel Birch, Medical Protection Medicolegal Adviser, has put together a series of practical tips to help GPs with collecting their evidence and preparing for revalidation.

  • If you move areas, or have recently obtained your CCT, ensure that you are allocated a responsible officer.
  • Participate fully in annual appraisal.
  • Use an electronic appraisal form to collect your supporting information for appraisal and revalidation.
  • Record your continuing professional development (CPD) and Personal Development Plan (PDP) objectives and outcomes.
  • Try to record learning as you go along, on a regular basis, and keep all your certificates in one place, making it easier to prepare for annual appraisal.
  • Consider the impact of learning on practice and try to apply it to practice or share it with the rest of your team.
  • Ensure that you allow enough time to do the patient and colleague feedback surveys and try not to leave them until the final year before revalidation.
  • Ensure that you are participating in annual quality improvement activity, providing significant event analyses/individual case reviews each year.
  • Plan and undertake a two-cycle clinical audit or quality improvement.
  • Register with and start using an online portfolio as this is a useful way to store all the information required for revalidation. Examples are the RCGP Revalidation ePortfolio or, for GPs in Scotland, the Scottish Online Appraisal Resource (see references).
  • The GMC have recently launched their My CPD app for smartphones and tablet devices as an alternative way of documenting learning.
  • Consider taking the RCGP e-learning module on revalidation.
  • Start using the RCGP’s credit system to record all educational activities (including hours and impact).
  • If you do other work apart from GP work, discuss this with your appraiser, as it may be able to be covered within your annual GP appraisal. If not, contact the GMC.
  • Fully familiarise yourself with RCGP, GMC and local appraisal guidance regarding revalidation.

Continuing Professional Development

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a key element of revalidation and essential in ensuring that doctors keep their knowledge and skills up to date.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) believes that CPD activity for the purposes of revalidation should be recorded in a credit-based system and the RCGP has developed its own system for GPs to use.

Under the system one hour of learning activity, accompanied by a reflective record, is one learning credit, with 50 credits required each year. This can be increased to two learning credits for learning activity that can be shown to have been implemented in practice and resulted in improvement in patient care or positive changes in an area of the doctor’s work.

Credits are self-assessed and verified at appraisal with relevant supporting information, and account should be taken of the need for GPs to use their CPD to ensure that they are up to date in all areas of their work using a variety of learning methods. Learning activities that can be claimed for CPD include:

  • Audit
  • Distance and Online learning
  • Meetings
  • Practical skills
  • Practice Developments
  • PUNS and DENS
  • Reading
  • Significant Events
  • Structured Learning
  • Surveys
  • Other Quality Improvement Activities

More information can be found in the Guide to the RCGP credit-based system for CPD.

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