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News archive - November 2012

New checks to ensure doctors are keeping up-to-date

New checks to ensure doctors are keeping up-to-date

DOCTORS in the UK are to have regular assessments to ensure that their training and expertise are up-to-date and that they are fit to carry out their roles. The General Medical Council will work with employers to implement and manage the system.

The skills involved in treating patients, who often have an increasing number of complex conditions, the different options for treatment, and the technology involved in modern medicine has increased dramatically in recent decades. There are now over 90,000 technologies in use across the NHS and thousands of new pieces of medical research are published on a frequent basis.

The new system, called medical revalidation, will help doctors keep up to the standard expected of them by ensuring they stay up-to-date with the latest techniques, technologies and research. This will be important in making improvements in early diagnosis and survival from diseases such as cancer and the better care of patients with conditions such as dementia, which is still poorly diagnosed. It will also ensure doctors are better equipped to help people with long term conditions manage their health better.

Revalidation will also require a doctor to tackle any concerns with important skills such as communication and maintaining trust with patients - which is particularly important when caring for the increasing number of older patients that the NHS treats.

The Government is also proposing that in future, there is one national list of general practice doctors, dentists and ophthalmologists approved to provide NHS primary care services. At the moment, each of the 151 Primary Care Trusts keeps individual local lists of clinicians - which means if a poorly performing doctor is removed from one list, they can move to a different area and keep practicing. A national list will ensure that patients are better protected from the small minority who fall short of the standards expected of them.

Medical revalidation will normally happen every five years and will apply to all doctors in all settings in the UK - including doctors working as locums and in the private sector.

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