doctors looking at patient's x-ray. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

A research team led by the University of Plymouth has led the first UK-wide investigation into medical revalidation – the process by which licensed doctors demonstrate that they are up to date and fit to practise.

The report compiled for the General Medical Council (GMC) was published today and showed that most doctors have been brought into a governed system, with a rise in engagement in annual appraisal.

Among the report’s other key findings were:

  • there is a variation in revalidation outcomes and experience of revalidation for some groups of doctors. 
  • while reflection in appraisal is key for generating change, reflection is often seen as just a product of appraisal, and not necessarily translated into ongoing reflective practice
  • both doctors’ and patients’ engagement with patient feedback is inconsistent, and current patient feedback tools require refinement.

The report is the culmination of a three-year study into the impact of revalidation. Its results are based on a survey of 26,000 licensed doctors together with hundreds of Responsible Officers (who oversee the practical application of revalidation) and feedback from patients and the public.

The consortium that compiled the report is known as UMbRELLA, and led by health education academics from the Collaboration for the Advancement of Medical Education Research and Assessment (CAMERA) at the University of Plymouth Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

UMbRELLA also includes Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland, Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester, University College London and the Wales Deanery.

Professor Julian Archer, Lead for UMbRELLA, said: 

“This report summarises the views of a large number of doctors and has provided us with an excellent overview of the impact of medical revalidation in the profession. Having had regular discussions with the GMC throughout the course of this research and having kept them updated on issues as they arose, we know that they have already started to address many of key learnings from our report. We want to thank all doctors who shared their experiences throughout the course of the research programme which have helped inform this important piece of work. I look forward to seeing the positive changes that come about as a result of this for patients and doctors.”

The GMC has shared a statement in response to the publication of Evaluating the regulatory impact of medical revalidation by UMbRELLA, which is available on the GMC website.

Collaboration for the Advancement of Medical Education Research and Assessment (CAMERA)

We seek to inform assessment across medical education through funded collaborative research that impacts on the international literature, educational theory, practice and policy at Plymouth, nationally and internationally.
CAMERA brings together a research group dedicated to the improvement of healthcare through evidence based education.