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Clare Barton, Assistant Director of Revalidation at the General Medical Council, outlines how revalidation works for locum doctors and answers the most frequently asked questions about the process.
If you’re planning to work as a locum doctor, you will probably have heard of revalidation, but that doesn’t make it any less daunting if you’ve never been through it before. By following the few simple steps outlined here, you can get from start to finish without worry.
What is revalidation?
For those who aren’t familiar with revalidation, it is now a legal requirement for all practising doctors in the UK to show their knowledge and skills are up to date. More than 120,000 doctors have been revalidated since it was introduced nearly three years ago in December 2012.
Revalidation involves a series of checks including an annual appraisal where you’ll reflect on your practice using supporting information you’ve collected. Through this evidence you’ll need to show how you are complying with the GMC’s core ethical guidance, Good medical practice.
How does revalidation take place?
A doctor, usually a Medical Director or deputy of the organisation, known as a Responsible Officer (RO), will support you through revalidation. It is your responsibility to find out who your Responsible Officer is. I will explain how to do this in the next section.
Although revalidation is a continuous process which involves annual appraisals, you only need to revalidate every five years.
Once you have been through the process your Responsible Officer will make a recommendation about you to the General Medical Council (GMC). The GMC will use this to inform its decision on whether or not you will be revalidated. There are three possible recommendations:
How do you find out who your Responsible Officer is?
Most licensed doctors have a formal link, known as a prescribed connection, to a single organisation (designated body) that will assist with revalidation. In most instances your Responsible Officer will be at the place where you have a link to. However, for locum doctors who often move between organisations, it’s less obvious to know who will help you with revalidation.
We have created an online tool that will help you to find out who your designated body is and where you’ll revalidate. You can also contact one of the GMC’s advisers who will be happy to help you.
How do you prepare for your appraisal?
As a locum doctor it’s essential that you keep a record of the scope of work you’ve completed along with the period of time you worked in a role. This way, your appraiser will fully understand the work you’ve carried out.
You’re responsible for gathering information for your appraisal and will need to reflect on it by showing how you’ve altered or improved in your practice. You can quickly record this evidence on your smartphone or tablet through our app, GMC MyCPD, which we launched earlier this year.
These are the types of supporting information you should gather:
Do I have to revalidate?
If you are a practising doctor in the UK or intend to do so soon you will need to revalidate.
Doctors not working in the UK or no longer practising do not need a licence and can, therefore, relinquish their licences. This would also mean you are not subject to revalidation. You can apply to have your licence restored if you decide to practise again. Relinquishing your licence does not impact your good standing. Doctors who are registered with the GMC but do not have a licence can still be in good standing.
Where can I find more information about revalidation?
If you have any questions about revalidation or would like to find out more about the process, you can visit our website or contact the GMC’s contact centre on 0161 923 6602 .
Read the BMA's revalidation guide
Working as a sessional GP? The BMA have some tips for your appraisal