Revalidation announcement by GMC 

From 17 March 2020, doctors who are due to revalidate before the end of September will have their revalidation date deferred for one year. The GMC will keep this under review and make further deferrals as necessary. 

GMC has made this decision to give responsible officers (ROs) and doctors more time to reschedule and complete appraisals, and to avoid the need for ROs to make revalidation recommendations during this time. The GMC hopes the decision will support the health service during this challenging time. Please see the GMC website for details.

At your next appraisal, you will be able to present any information gathered since your previous appraisal even though the time between appraisals is longer than usual. This includes supporting information entered into your portfolio prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. You should keep your supporting information proportionate and present what is applicable to your whole scope of work between the two appraisals. If you need further information please contact your appraisal office or responsible officer.

 

Medical Revalidation

Doctors working in clinical informatics may need or want to hold a licence to practise. If you are unsure whether you should retain your licence to practise, the GMC provides discussion points that may help you decide.
To retain your license to practice you usually need to have an appraisal every year and to revalidate every five years. The GMC says, “Revalidation assures patients and the public that doctors remain up to date and fit to practise, in line with the standards of practice required in the UK. It is founded on the principle that you have met the professional expectations placed on you as a doctor practising in the UK. You have a professional obligation to give an honest and comprehensive picture of your whole practice for revalidation.”

How to revalidate

Regulations require you to engage with the following revalidation processes:

There is a clear set of rules that determines which organisation is your designated body. The rules are based on regulations and you cannot choose who will be your designated body or responsible officer.

The GMC has developed an  online help tool    to help you find which organisation is your prescribed designated body. Once you have identified your prescribed designated body you should contact that organisation’s responsible officer and also  inform the GMC . The GMC refers to this as making a connection.

For the majority of doctors in clinical informatics, it will be straightforward and your designated body will be your employer or national NHS board. This means that as you change employment over the years your designated body may also change. Some professional organisations have designated body status and the GMC help tool will indicate if you should make a connection where you are a member.

A small number of doctors in health informatics may not have a prescribed designated body. This may be due to a variety of reasons including contractual status or unemployment. Whatever your status, it is important that you keep the GMC informed of any changes. If you are unsure, you should work through the GMC tool and if you do not identify a prescribed designated body you will reach a set of questions including, “Are you currently a Health Informatics Practitioner?”. If you can say “Yes” to this (and “No” to  all  the preceding question sets) then you will be taken to a statement informing you that you may be able to connect to a suitable person who can act as your responsible officer.

Click on the link to the list of approved suitable persons and scroll down through that list. You will find the details of John Woodhouse, a suitable person who can act as a responsible officer for health informaticians. You can contact him to make a revalidation connection. It is important to note that you can only connect to a suitable person to act as your responsible officer if you do not have a designated body prescribed in regulations, so you should follow the GMC tool carefully.

FCI recommends making a connection. However, as an alternative to connecting with a suitable person, doctors with no connection may revalidate directly with the GMC but will need to undertake a GMC revalidation assessment (paper-based MCQ) in addition to other requirements outlined  here.

You should collect supporting evidence relating all your professional roles across each revalidation cycle. Bear in mind that your evidence is intended to show that you are: up-to-date, fit-to-practice and safe; have a realistic plan to improve the quality of your work (PDP); undertake effective, developmental learning (CPD).

Doctors with a connection:

  • Follow the advice and guidance of your responsible officer or suitable person
  • Collect and reflect on supporting information about your informatics practice in line with Academy of Royal Medical Colleges 

Doctors in training:

  • Participate in the requirements of your UK training programme (your responsible officer is the postgrad dean)

Doctors with no connection

 

You should have an annual appraisal for revalidation, which must consider the whole scope of your practice, i.e. clinical and informatics.

Doctors with a connection:

  • Your responsible officer will allocate you an appraiser for the purposes of revalidation
  • You will need to find a suitable appraiser with whom your suitable person is satisfied and FCI can assist you if needed

Doctors with no connection

The GMC says, “Annual whole practice appraisal should be supportive and developmental, and is not a pass or fail exercise. You must participate in a whole practice appraisal every year unless there are clear and reasonable mitigating circumstances that prevent you from doing so. For example, you might not have had an appraisal one year because you were on maternity leave or long-term sickness absence. Providing there are clear and reasonable mitigating circumstances, we do not require you to ‘catch up’ on appraisals and you do not have to complete five appraisals to revalidate. You should discuss and agree this with your responsible officer before any period of prolonged absence, or as soon as you know how long you are going to be away from work.”

Your revalidation recommendation

Your responsible officer or suitable person will usually make a recommendation to the GMC about you once every five years. You must take reasonable steps to ensure you engage with revalidation processes to enable your responsible officer or suitable person to make a recommendation about you before your revalidation submission date.


Multi-source feedback for revalidation

Formal Multi-Source Feedback (MSF) is a requirement of medical revalidation and must be undertaken once in each revalidation cycle. The General Medical Council (GMC) says that for your revalidation you must collect, reflect on, and discuss at your appraisal feedback from patients and colleagues across the whole scope of your practice.

Where a doctor does not provide medical services to patients there is no requirement to undertake a patient feedback survey but all doctors must undertake colleague feedback and the GMC says that the questionnaires should be validated and independently administered whenever possible to maintain objectivity and confidentiality.

Many colleague feedback tools that are currently used for revalidation may not be optimally suited to clinical informaticians for various reasons including a focus on clinical contact with patients.

FCI has developed a colleague feedback tool for medical revalidation which meets GMC criteria and reflects the values and principles of GMC’s Good Medical Practice. The tool may be suitable for all doctors whose scope of practice includes clinical informatics, whether or not they provide medical services to patients.

Some designated bodies may mandate a particular MSF tool and doctors can discuss with their appraiser whether the FCI-approved MSF is appropriate for them. If there is any doubt doctors should confirm that the responsible officer is content. John Woodhouse, suitable person, accepts a range of MSF tools and has supported the development of the FCI-approved MSF indicators.

In seeking colleague feedback for revalidation purposes, you should try to ensure that you ask a range of colleagues that is representative of the people you work with and across the scope of your practice.

GMC requires that the MSF process includes a supported discussion either through appraisal or a separate feedback session. FCI advises that you include in your appraisal portfolio some written reflections on the feedback you have received, ready to discuss at your appraisal.

The FCI-approved indicators were developed iteratively from the core GMC indicators, with particular thanks to the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and members of the FCI education and standards committee. The aims included keeping the number of indicators low and the rating scale simple and that the tool should be equally suitable for those that do and don’t have direct contact with patients. GMC guidance on the development of questionnaires was reviewed for compliance.

The MSF is available at https://www.fourteenfish.com/join/fci. Registration is free and there is a nominal charge for the survey which is payable once the survey is complete and you want to view the results report. FourteenFish Ltd is a small UK company that specialises in providing appraisal toolkits and did not charge a set-up cost to FCI. A 10% discount is offered to FCI Members and Fellows.

The MSF tool will be kept under review, if you would like to provide constructive comments on it, please contact FCI.