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New Chair of GMC speaks about plans to re-validate doctors

I was interested to read a recent interview with Peter Rubin, conducted by the Guardian newspaper. Rubin is the new chair of the General Medical Council, which regulates the UK’s 185,000 practising doctors, and this was his first major interview since taking up his post at the GMC in the summer.

He says his top priority is implementing the revalidation of all doctors. Although he describes it as “the biggest change to medical regulation since the GMC was established in 1858”, revalidation has so far generated little public controversy, despite significant suspicion towards it among doctors. It will involve every doctor undergoing an annual 360-degree appraisal, with input from colleagues and patients to prove their skills are up to scratch, and having to acquire, every five years, a fresh licence proving that they are fit to practice. It is due to start in 2011.

Considering the 3,000 complaints a year investigated by the GMC, he says that the large majority of doctors have nothing to fear from revalidation. But, he adds, a minority do pose a problem and potential threat to patients, and the rigour and regularity of revalidation will ensure that they are identified early.

I hope that the process of revalidation is robust, and will indeed increase standards of treatment, identify low performing doctors and not simply be a bureaucratic exercise as is feared by some members of the medical profession.

Suzanne is a Partner and is head of the clinical negligence department.

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