The revalidation, or relicensing, of doctors is a process which has been adopted by a number of countries around the world. In the UK, for example, it was introduced in December 2012 and requires all doctors to demonstrate that they are ‘up to date and fit to practise’. It consists of a five-year cycle review based on annual appraisals. The process includes feedback from colleagues and from patients.
The Medical Board of Australia, with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, has commissioned the Collaboration for the Advancement of Medical Education, Research and Assessment (CAMERA) at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (UK) to investigate the evidence and options for the introduction of medical revalidation to Australia.
The debate about revalidation in Australia began in December 2012. Evidence from Canada stated that 1.5 per cent of medical practitioners were performing unsatisfactorily. When translated to Australia, the statistic suggests that more than 1,350 medical practitioners in the country could be performing unsatisfactorily.
CAMERA is an international leader in healthcare regulation research which has carried out a series of research studies around regulation including revalidation for the UK General Medical Council, the Medical Council of Ireland, the NHS Revalidation Support Team, the Health Foundation, and the National Institute for Health Research.
In Australia, it will help the Medical Board of Australia to understand how revalidation is carried out in countries comparable to Australia, what the evidence base is for introducing revalidation to Australia, and to provide suggestions for models of how revalidation may work in Australia – including how to pilot the process in the first instance.
The study will be led by Dr Julian Archer, Director of CAMERA. He said:
“Our aim will be to supply our colleagues in Australia with the necessary evidence to support future policy developments in relation to the development, implementation and evaluation of any future Australian medical revalidation strategy.”
“We are delighted to have been commissioned to carry out this study. It is an indictment of our growing international reputation for investigating issues around healthcare professional regulation and fitness to practise.”
Chair of the Medical Board of Australia, Dr Joanna Flynn AM noted:
"Commissioning this research will help make sure that the decisions the Board makes in future about revalidation are effective, evidence-based and practical,”
“International regulators have put in place a range of structured processes to make sure practitioners provide safe and ethical care long after they graduate. We have commissioned this research from CAMERA to find out what is working well internationally, what is in place in comparable health care systems, and what principles the Board should consider in developing revalidation in Australia.
It’s an exciting project and the findings will be important in helping the Board to manage risk to patients in the long term."
It is anticipated that CAMERA will present its findings and recommendations to the Medical Board of Australia by July 2015.