Revalidation for doctors

Read our overview of the revalidation process for doctors.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Friday 17 September 2021
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What is revalidation?

Revalidation is the process for doctors to confirm to the GMC (General Medical Council) that they are fit to practice.

It applies to all licenced doctors in the UK working in all specialties in the NHS, and the private sector. Doctors need to meet the standards set by the GMC to maintain their licence to practice.

What it involves

  • Doctors take part in annual appraisals and collate a portfolio of evidence to show they meet the necessary standards.
  • Revalidation runs over a five-year cycle - doctors will need to revalidate only once in the cycle.
  • Most doctors will have a connection to a responsible officer (RO) or suitable person. The RO or suitable person will assess the outputs of appraisal and clinical governance information. They will then make a revalidation recommendation to the GMC. Following that, the GMC decides if the doctor can retain their licence to practise.

Costs of revalidation

The GMC does not normally charge doctors to revalidate.

In some circumstances, the GMC might charge administrative fees. This could be the case for doctors with no connection to a designated body or an eligible suitable person.


Responsible officers and designated bodies

Responsible officers have overall responsibility within designated bodies for helping you with revalidation. ROs should be fully registered licensed doctors with more than five years practice. They will be appraised and recommended for revalidation by other senior licensed doctors.

A designated body is the organisation that appoints ROs. In most cases, this is your main employer. Only UK organisations can be designated bodies because the responsible officer regulations only cover the UK.

You only have one RO and one designated body. This is regardless of how many organisations you are contracted with or employed by. 

The specific responsibilities of an RO are:

  • ensuring that effective systems to support revalidation are in place (including appraisal and clinical governance systems)
  • evaluating the fitness to practice of all doctors who have a prescribed connection with the designated body, and making a recommendation to the GMC on revalidation
  • ensuring that support and remediation is provided where a doctors practice falls below the required standard
  • overseeing doctors whose practice is supervised or limited under conditions imposed by the GMC.
Additional responsibilities

ROs may have additional responsibilities when designated bodies enter into contracts of employment with doctors. They ensure that doctors have appropriate qualifications and experience, their identities are verified and appropriate references are obtained and checked. These responsibilities are nation-specific.

Receiving feedback

Appraisals provide a good opportunity to reflect and learn from feedback that is both positive and critical. Don't ignore it; instead, talk it through with your appraiser or RO.

You must reflect during appraisals on feedback from colleagues and patients at least once in each revalidation cycle.

Read the GMC's guidance on Colleague and patient feedback in revalidation.