Revalidation for doctors

Read our overview of the revalidation process for doctors.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
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What is revalidation?

Revalidation is the process for doctors to positively affirm to the General Medical Council (GMC) that they are up to date and fit to practice.

It applies to all licenced doctors in the UK working in the NHS and the private sector and all branches of practice. Doctors need to meet the standards set by the GMC, taking into account guidance for their specialty, to maintain their licence to practice.

What it involves

  • Doctors take part in a robust appraisal process 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.
  • Each doctor relates to Responsible Officer who assesses their portfolio and reports back to the GMC on the doctor's fitness to practise.

Costs of revalidation

The GMC does not charge doctors to revalidate, you should not need to pay. 

In certain circumstances, such as for doctors with no prescribed connection to a designated body or an eligible suitable person, the GMC will offer an alternative route for revalidation, for which they do charge administrative fees. 

While the Responsible Officer regulations state that some non-NHS designated bodies, such as locum agencies, are able to charge doctors reasonable costs for supporting them with revalidation, NHS organisations should not be doing this.


Responsible officers

Responsible Officers (ROs) are the individuals within designated bodies who have overall responsibility for helping you with revalidation. A designated body is the organisation (likely to be your main employer) that will support you with your appraisal and revalidation.

You only have one designated body and one Responsible Officer irrespective of how many organisations you are contracted with or employed by. Only UK organisations can be designated bodies, because the legal rules that determine this - the Responsible Officer regulations - only cover the UK.

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 with whom the designated body has a prescribed connection and making a recommendation to the GMC regarding revalidation
  • identifying and investigating concerns about doctors' conduct or performance
  • 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 such as ensuring that, when designated bodies enter into contracts of employment or contracts for the provision of services with doctors, those doctors have appropriate qualifications and experience for the work to be performed, their identities are verified and appropriate references are obtained and checked. However, these additional responsibilities are nation specific.

Making recommendations

ROs will make a recommendation about a doctor's fitness to practice to the General Medical Council (GMC). The recommendation will be based on the outcome of the doctor's annual appraisals, over the course of five years, combined with information drawn from the organisational clinical governance systems. Following the RO's recommendation, the GMC will make the final decision on whether the doctor can retain their licence to practise.

Fully registered and licensed

ROs should be fully registered licensed doctors with more than five years' practice and they themselves will be appraised and recommended for revalidation by other senior licensed doctors. This may often mean that the responsibilities of the RO are an extension of the current role of the Medical Director.

Receiving feedback

The GMC states that no single piece of feedback will be considered in isolation.

However, negative feedback does need to be addressed in your appraisal and should be an opportunity to reflect and learn. Don't just ignore it; instead talk it through with your appraiser or RO.

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