Jon Billings, Assistant Director in charge of revalidation, explains why we are commissioning an evaluation of the process.

Jon Billings

It’s been just over a year since the first doctors in the UK were revalidated so the time is right for us to look at how things are progressing.

There’s no doubt that we have all entered new territory: we are, after all, the first country in the world to pioneer such a comprehensive system of revalidating doctors. And it’s important to remember that this isn’t simply change for change’s sake: this is about supporting doctors to provide good, safe medical care and inspiring public confidence in the profession.

Big change needs big conversations, and in developing revalidation we took into account the differing views and perspectives. By talking to a wide range of professionals and members of the public, we have worked hard to find a model that we believe can work for everyone.

Now we want to make sure that not only is this happening, but that revalidation is also achieving what it was ultimately set up to do: help us protect patients where necessary and promote confidence in the profession by providing a formal space for all doctors for appraisal, feedback and reflection.

Over 32,000 doctors have been revalidated so far and the feedback has been largely positive. But this is the beginning of the story, not the end. We want to continue to listen and learn from those on the ground. So, as promised, we are now embarking on an evaluation programme. This will help us get to grips with what’s working well – and what could improve.

We enlisted the help of researchers at Plymouth University to develop a framework to do just that.The framework focuses the evaluation on:

1. What happens in a medical appraisal.
2. The information doctors collect for appraisals.
3. How revalidation supports early identification of concerning practice.
4. Patient and public contribution in revalidation.

Proper evaluation has to be more than just a snapshot, so our research will run for three years from this summer. You can keep up to date with progress here. Not only will this ensure that we look at all aspects of revalidation, but that revalidation fulfils its regulatory objectives in a fair and transparent way. At the end of the day, this can only happen if doctors feel able to be open and honest in their appraisals.

We’re pleased about how revalidation has gone so far and grateful to everyone involved for their hard work in bringing it to this point. As we continue on this journey we will keep listening to and learning from those involved so we can demonstrate the value of revalidation for both patients and the medical profession.