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BMA says revalidation loose ends need to be addressed

Doctors leaders have stressed that some work remains to be done before revalidation can be implemented.

The NHS Revalidation Support Team today published a report on the state of NHS readiness for revalidation, claiming the majority of doctors now have responsible officers and are linked to designated bodies (organisations recognised as employing or contracting with doctors) that have the appropriate revalidation policies in place.

However, the ORSA (Organisational Readiness Self-Assessment) also reveals that a number of issues of concern to the BMA have not been resolved. These include remediation, low appraisal rates among certain groups of doctors, and revalidation for locum doctors.

Funded by the Department of Health with the aim of establishing revalidation, the support team is a partnership between the DH, the GMC and designated bodies.

BMA council GMC working party chair Brian Keighley said it was positive that progress had been made on issues that would support revalidation, such as the number of doctors who had responsible officers.

Work to be done

But he warned: ‘The report also shows that there is still a fair amount of work to do before revalidation can be introduced.

‘The BMA is particularly concerned that the report highlights, yet again, that there are not sufficient policies in place to support and remediate doctors when concerns arise. The needs of locum doctors are also not being addressed.

‘We are committed to working with the relevant bodies to make revalidation work for doctors and patients, but it is essential that our concerns about appraisal rates, remediation issues and support for locum doctors are addressed.’

The ORSA Report 2011/12 provides a snapshot of organisational readiness in England at March 31, 2012. This year, 654 designated bodies, including all the NHS ones, completed the ORSA.

Key findings

Its findings include:

  • Almost 98 per cent of doctors have a responsible officer who has received appropriate training
  • 86 per cent of doctors are now covered by designated bodies with sufficient numbers of trained medical appraisers.

However, although the overall appraisal rate has risen to 73 per cent of doctors, the rates for consultants and staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors remain low compared with that for GPs: the figures are 73.1 per cent, 53.1 per cent and 90.1 per cent, respectively.

Dr Keighley added: ‘The low appraisal rates for consultants and SAS doctors are worrying, especially as this has been a contractual requirement for some time.’

December deadline

The GMC is planning to introduce revalidation in early December, subject to a decision by health secretary Andrew Lansley, which will be informed by the state of readiness across the UK.

Readiness reports are expected from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland later this month.