Doctors working in the UK will have to undergo annual appraisals in what the General Medical Council (GMC) says will be “the most comprehensive scheme of its kind anywhere in the world“.
Commencing in December this year, the revamp of the revalidation system will see the UK's 230,000 doctors face regular checks to show they are aware of recent advances in healthcare, and they have the right skills regarding patient communication.
Once the scheme is launched, doctors will then be required to revalidate their credentials with the GMC every five years, or be prevented from practising medicine in the country.
This revalidation process will be based on annual appraisals, as well as information doctors collect about their practice, including feedback from patients, nurses and other colleagues.
“We are confident that the introduction of revalidation will make a major contribution to the quality of care that patients receive and will give them valuable assurance that the doctors who treat them are regularly assessed against our professional standards,” said Professor Sir Peter Rubin, chair of the GMC .
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said this new process to ensure doctors are fit to practise has the potential to improve the UK's survival rates compared to its European neighbours.
He said: “We want to have the best survival rates in Europe for the major killer diseases. Doctors save lives every day and making sure they are up to speed with the latest treatments and technologies will help them save even more.”
The scheme was developed by the Department of Health in collaboration with the GMC, the Royal Colleges, patient groups and UK doctors body the British Medical Association (BMA).
As part of the process, the BMA demanded a now-completed pilot process for revalidation, as well as funding for remediation and said revalidation must not give doctors more paperwork.
The BMA's chair Mark Porter said: "The system soon to be rolled out is much better than the one initially put forward. But we still need to ensure consistency across the UK so that all doctors are working to the same standards.
"It is essential that revalidation is reviewed every step of the way so that we can be sure that the system works for patients and for doctors."