UK Government

Department of Health: First Doctors to Undergo Strengthened Assessments

Press Release   •   Jan 26, 2010 11:36 GMT

Over 3,000 doctors will test out a new system of strengthened appraisal that will improve the quality and safety of patient care, Health Secretary Andy Burnham announced today.

The doctors will take part in ten revalidation pilot studies across England and will be the first to try out a process, which will provide assurance on whether they are up to date with medical advances and fit to practice.

The pilot studies are a key stage towards the introduction of a new system in which all doctors practicing in the UK will need to have their licences revalidated by the General Medical Council every five years.

The pilots, which will cover doctors working in a wide range of NHS healthcare settings and differing regions across England, will:

·        test the role of the responsible officer - the senior doctor with local responsibility for overseeing the revalidation process

·        test the proposals for a strengthened form of medical appraisal

·        look at the role of the Medical Royal Colleges or Faculties to support revalidation.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said:

“These pilots will provide the NHS with the opportunity to test out how the new system should work in practice.

“Revalidation will provide the scrutiny that patients rightly expect and provide assurance that the doctor who is treating them is keeping up to date and has all the skills and competencies necessary to do a good job.

“It will also help support doctors to reflect on their practice, continue to develop their skills and enable them to access professional development throughout their careers.”

Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said:

“This new system will not only boost the levels of public trust in doctors, it will also allow us to step in and support those professionals who are struggling to keep pace.

“We have been delighted with the number of organisations who applied to take part in the pilots which shows that the NHS is keen to move forward on revalidation.

“We will continue to listen to patients and doctors as we move through the pilots and ensure they are independently evaluated.

“It will be important to strike the balance between finding a process that will inspire confidence but not so detailed and intricate that it is overly bureaucratic and expensive.”

"Ultimately the process is aimed at helping the vast majority of doctors who are already delivering good care to do even better and to provide patients with reassurance that their doctor is a good doctor with 21st century knowledge and skills".

General Medical Council Chairman Peter Rubin said:

"For the vast majority of doctors in this country appraisal will confirm what they already do: keep their skills and knowledge up to date and demonstrate high levels of professionalism every day of their working lives.

“However, an effective system of appraisal will also mean that doctors will have the opportunity to reflect on their practice and identify learning needs.

“The doctors who take part in these important pilots will play a vital role in helping to shape a key part of revalidation."

The pilots will begin in January 2010 and run through to 31 March 2011. There will then be the first testing of the full process some time in late 2011 / early 2012.

Notes to editors


  • For media enquiries or for case study details please contact the DH newsdesk on 020 7210 5221.
  • In November the GMC took the historic step of issuing new licences for doctors, which will need to be revalidated every five years.
  • In the spring, the GMC will be launching a public consultation on a range of revalidation issues including the standards that doctors will be expected to meet.  These standards have been drawn up by the Medical Royal Colleges and relate to the separate specialties that doctors work in, as well as to general practice.
  • The Pathfinder pilots will follow on from the successful completion of first phase pilots, such as the enhanced appraisal pilot which took place during 2009 in the Mersey Region.
  • The pilot sites will be in the following locations:
  • Pilot site


    London Deanery

    Primary care

    NHS South Central

    Multi site all sectors

    Northampton General Hospital

    Secondary care

    NHS Cornwall & Scilly Isles

    Multi-site all sectors

    University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust

    Secondary care

    Mersey consortium

    Multi site secondary care

    York's and Humber Trust Collaboration

    Multi site all sectors

    NHS Dorset

    Primary care

    Nottinghamshire healthcare NHS trust & Derbyshire mental health services NHS Trust

    Secondary care mental health

    NHS West Midlands

    Medical managers/responsible officers


    NDS Enquiries
    Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department