Revalidation for doctors will begin in December after being granted the seal of approval from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
In the biggest shake-up the medical profession has seen in 150 years, doctors in the UK are the first in the world to have five-yearly assessment to ensure they are fit to practise.
The confirmation comes two weeks after the General Medical Council (GMC) wrote to Hunt recommending revalidation begin this year.
Starting December, doctors will now undergo annual appraisals based on the requirements of the GMC’s core guidance Good Medical Practice. A responsible officer – who is usually the medical director – will review appraisals and make a recommendation to the GMC about the doctor’s continuing fitness to practise every five years.
The final decision regarding renewal of a doctor’s licence to practise will be made by the GMC.
“We want to have the best survival rates in Europe for the major killer diseases,” said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
“Doctors save lives every day and making sure they are up to speed with the latest treatments and technologies will help them save even more. This is why a proper system of revalidation is so important.”
Professor Sir Peter Rubin, chair of the GMC, said he was “confident” the introduction of revalidation will make a “major contribution” to the quality of care patients receive.
Professor Mike Pringle who has been leading the Royal College of GP’s work on revalidation, welcomed the Health Secretary’s approval.
“We have worked hard to ensure that revalidation will be as effective for GPs and patients as possible,” he said.
“We have listened to the ideas and concerns of patients, GPs and colleagues and are confident that revalidation will not be an onerous task for GPs: it will help them in many ways to ensure they provide good care for patients and get the most out of their own careers.”
However, chair of BMA Council, Dr Mark Porter, warned the GMC to be “careful” in ensuring revalidation doesn’t add to the “unnecessary bureaucracy” in the NHS and asked for “consistency” and regular monitoring of the process.
The government is also planning to develop one national list of approved GPs to provide NHS primary care services in the future.
This is expected to counteract those poor performing GPs that move between local lists currently held by each of the 151 primary care trusts (PCTs).
“It is right that information about a doctor moves with them around the country as they do,” said Hunt.
“By introducing a single national performers list, poor performers will no longer be able to slip through the gaps between different local lists.”