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Revalidation progressing well but challenges ahead

A survey of responsible officers (ROs) in London by The King’s Fund found that despite it being early days nearly half (42 per cent) of those surveyed were positive about their experience of revalidation and only 10 per cent were negative.

The remaining 40 per cent of ROs surveyed reserved judgement on revalidation ahead of year two, which they believed would be trickier. They pointed to the fact that performance concerns not experienced in the first year would surface in the second year as ROs would have to revalidate some of the less engaged and more challenging doctors with performance issues. Their greatest concern for the second year therefore lay with the cost of, and resourcing necessary to provide, remediation.

The King’s Fund surveyed 53 of London’s 133 ROs of whom 20 were also interviewed. This provides a snapshot of what the implementation of revalidation has meant for the new ROs six months in. It also draws some conclusions on what is currently aiding successful implementation that can be drawn on by ROs, doctors, boards and senior leaders across the country to prepare for the second year of revalidation.

Lessons for year two:

  • Responsible Officers felt that further work to capture patient feedback and experience as part of the revalidation process is needed to support the delivery of patient centred care.
  • An RO network, support from the board, support from human resources and the central Revalidation Support Team are key factors in promoting the successful establishment of revalidation and the ability to respond effectively to concerns that arise.
  • A positive experience of revalidation is linked to effective systems, processes and IT that underpin the appraisal and revalidation procedure.
  • Going forward, ROs and doctors should see revalidation as a restorative process; this will help to underpin revalidation.

Vijaya Nath, Assistant Director in Leadership Development at The King’s Fund and the report’s author, said:

'The early indications from our revalidation survey show that on the whole there is good progress being made, with many responsible officers finding the experience positive. However, for revalidation to be more than a tick box exercise that takes place every five years it needs to become a process that doctors value and therefore actively engage with. The key to achieving this is to build on the potential for revalidation to increase quality and transparency for patients by making their feedback and experience integral to the process - in many cases this will require further work.'

She added:

'The anxieties expressed by some ROs that the future will present more challenging cases for revalidation can be alleviated by providing responsible officers with the resourcing, time and support that they need.'

Since December 2012, ROs have a ‘statutory duty to evaluate fitness to practise and monitor the conduct and performance of the doctors they are responsible for’. The King’s Fund survey, for the NHS England (London region) Revalidation Team, heard from 53 of 133 (40 per cent) of ROs in London and conducted qualitative interviews with 20. The aim was to inform future rounds of revalidation so that they could provide meaningful support to the RO network.

Notes to editors: 

For further information, or to request an interview with Vijaya Nath, please contact: Cara Phillips, Senior Press and Public Affairs Officer, at The King’s Fund on 020 7307 2603 or email

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.

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