Una Lane, the GMC’s Director of Registration and Revalidation, clarifies how doctors who do not have a Responsible Officer can meet our requirements for revalidation.
Revalidation has encouraged many doctors to think about whether they need to hold a licence – particularly those who are no longer in practice in the UK. Over the last few years, we’ve seen more doctors giving up their licence and holding registration only.
I know that for some doctors the decision to give up their licence can be a difficult one. But it’s important to remember that you only need a licence if you’re practising in the UK.
I know that for some doctors the decision to give up their licence can be a difficult one. But it’s important to remember that you only need a licence if you’re practising in the UK. If you’re not, the most sensible option is to give up your licence.
Being registered without a licence has many benefits. You can show others (such as overseas regulators) you’re in good standing with us, you’ll pay a reduced annual retention fee, and if you do wish to return to practice in the UK it’s straightforward to reapply for your licence and have it restored.
If you’re not sure whether you need your licence, I’d always recommend you seek advice. Your employer or medical defence organisation are often good places to start. Or we would be happy to give advice and to help where we can, so please feel free to contact us.
Professor Terence Stephenson, our Chair, also described his own personal experiences of revalidation and shared his advice in a recent blog post.
Meeting the requirements for revalidation
Engaging with revalidation is a legal requirement if you want to maintain a licence, but having a regular appraisal and reflecting on your practice should also help you identify your learning needs and plan your professional development.
We’ve published six case studies from doctors who work in roles where collecting patient feedback can be challenging to help others who work in similar environments.
For your appraisal, you need to provide a portfolio of supporting information to show how you are meeting the professional values and principles set out in our core guidance for doctors: Good medical practice.
One of the six types of supporting information is patient and colleague feedback. We recently published a leaflet for patients to help them give feedback about their doctor, which we hope will result in more useful feedback for you. We also published six case studies from doctors who work in roles where collecting patient feedback can be challenging, such as anaesthetists and locum doctors, to help others who work in similar environments.
Revalidation for doctors without a Responsible Officer
Most doctors have a Responsible Officer. These senior doctors have a duty to make sure robust systems of appraisal and clinical governance are in place to support doctors with their revalidation. Responsible Officers will make a revalidation recommendation to us usually every five years.
If you don’t have a Responsible Officer, there may be the option of connecting to a Suitable Person.
Some doctors don’t have a Responsible Officer because they work independently or for an organisation that isn’t required by law to have one. If you don’t have a Responsible Officer, there may be the option of connecting to a Suitable Person. This is a doctor who can fulfil the role of a Responsible Officer by supporting you with your revalidation and making a recommendation for you.
We have recognised Suitable Persons for doctors in a range of roles including those working in sports and exercise medicine, as aviation medical examiners or as crematoria referees. You can find the full list of Suitable Persons here [PDF].
What to do if you can’t connect to a Suitable Person
If you can’t make a connection to a Responsible Officer or Suitable Person, you can still revalidate:
- every year you’ll submit a revalidation annual return, giving us evidence of your practice and participation in annual appraisal
- you’ll take part in a revalidation assessment every five years to show that your medical knowledge is up to date
- we’ll use the information from your annual return and assessment to make a decision about your revalidation.
Prof Terence Stephenson, Chair of the GMC, advises doctors who have left clinical practice on how to manage revalidation
Dr John Bainton and other doctors talk about how they use the GMC My CPD app to log their ongoing learning