Revalidation: what you need to know

Understanding the essentials of revalidation.

  • Revalidation requires you to demonstrate you are up-to-date and fit to practise.
  • You need to revalidate every five years.
  • Thousands of doctors' revalidation was deferred due to the pandemic.

Who needs to revalidate?

Every doctor who is fully registered with a licence to practise needs to revalidate. This includes FY2 doctors and those in specialty training.

Revalidation is based on the annual appraisal system. The information gathered as part of the appraisal process is normally the main evidence of your fitness to practise.

The GMC doesn't require you to have a licence to practise if you've retired from clinical medicine, and in these circumstances you wouldn't need to revalidate. However, this could affect whether you were able to do any medico-legal work, as solicitors and insurers often require their experts to have a licence and be able to demonstrate they are up to date.

Responsible officers and designated bodies

The majority of doctors are connected to an organisation that provides them with their annual appraisal and supports their revalidation. This organisation is your designated body.

If you're not sure of its identity, the GMC has an online tool to help you find your designated body (please note the MDU can't serve as your designated body).

Your responsible officer (RO) is a senior doctor working in your designated body who has a duty to make sure systems are in place for you to have annual appraisals.

Based on information from your appraisals, your RO will make one of three recommendations to the GMC about your ability to revalidate:

  • a positive recommendation to revalidate because they are satisfied you're up to date and fit to practise
  • a request to defer the date of your recommendation because more information is needed
  • a notification that you're not engaging in revalidation.

If you don't have a designated body (and therefore a responsible officer), you should tell the GMC.

The GMC gives guidance on its website for doctors who don't have a designated body. In this case, your options are to identify a 'suitable person' to make a recommendation about you, or, if this is not possible, to submit evidence directly to the GMC (an 'annual return'). You may need to undergo an assessment of knowledge and skills in the year you're due to revalidate.

Preparing for revalidation

There are several things you'll need to do to be ready for revalidation:

  • identify your designated body and RO
  • set up a GMC online account
  • keep your annual appraisals up to date
  • collect supporting information.

Because your ability to revalidate depends on success of your appraisals, the supporting information you collect needs to provide evidence that you are up to date and meeting the GMC's standards.

You will likely have some of this information already, which falls into four broad categories:

  • general information - providing context about what you do in all aspects of your work
  • keeping up to date - maintaining and enhancing the quality of your professional work
  • review of your practice - evaluating and improving the quality of your professional work
  • feedback on your practice - seeking and acting on feedback about the quality of your professional work.

The GMC offers guidance on supporting information for appraisal and revalidation.

In addition, the Medical Royal Colleges' guidance is available to help doctors in all the main specialities meet GMC requirements for supporting information.

If it's not possible or appropriate to collect patient feedback, discuss this and any possible alternatives with your appraiser.

  • Remember, appraisals are your responsibility.

Demonstrating reflection and learning

Demonstrating your reflection and learning is an important element of successful appraisal, and therefore of successful revalidation. You must collect, reflect on and discuss six types of supporting information at your appraisal.

  • CPD: rather than just evidence of having attended or completed continuing professional development (CPD), you should keep reflective notes on what you've learned and how it might impact on and improve your performance.
  • Quality Improvement Activity: your evidence should include an element of evaluation and reflection, evidence of what action you've taken in response to the results, and consideration of whether improvement has happened and been maintained.
  • Significant events: you should be able to demonstrate awareness of any patterns and explain what you have learned or what you did to prevent recurrence.
  • Feedback from colleagues (at least once every five years).
  • Feedback from patients (if applicable, at least once every five years).
  • Compliments and complaints: your evidence should include your reflections and what you have done to learn and develop your practice in response to feedback, compliments and complaints.

The revalidation process

Six months before your revalidation:

The GMC will check with you that the information they hold on your designated body is correct.

You can update these details via your GMC Online account, which holds all your relevant information including your revalidation submission date and the names of your designated body and RO.

Four months before your revalidation:

The GMC will send you a formal notice that they need to receive your RO's recommendation by the revalidation submission date.

Ten days before your revalidation:

The GMC will contact you if your RO's recommendation hasn't been received. In this case, you might need to ask your RO to submit their recommendation, as your licence to practise may be at risk.

What happens next?

The GMC will make its decision based on the recommendation received from your RO.

  • If you've been recommended for revalidation, your next revalidation date will be set for five years in the future.
  • If your RO recommends to defer your revalidation, the GMC will offer a new submission date.
  • If your RO considers that you are not engaging with revalidation - for example, that you haven't been keeping your appraisals up to date - the GMC will consider if your licence should be withdrawn.
  • If the GMC decides to remove your licence, you will have 28 days to appeal.

What support/advice is available?

Our website offers a range of information on revalidation.

The GMC website provides a comprehensive resource to guide you through the process, along with FAQs, case studies, tools and useful links.

Many Royal Colleges have CPD support frameworks that can be helpful.

This page was correct at publication on 27/04/2022. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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