Revalidation: the new Hippocratic Oath?

Revalidation: the new Hippocratic Oath?

As the NHS falls under increasing scrutiny in the wake of the Mid Staffs crisis and with five additional trusts currently under investigation, public hysteria and lack of confidence in the health system and the level of care administered by healthcare assistants, nurses and some doctors is unsurprisingly at its highest.

However, whilst there is a definite need for an urgent call to action to prevent this level of neglect happening within an NHS hospital again, it is important to remember that this treatment of patients is still very rare. NHS patient surveys point to an overwhelmingly more positive hospital experience, with over 90% of patients leaving hospital saying that their care was good or very good.

In light of Danny Boyle’s epic tribute to the NHS, played out in front of an international audience of 900 million at the Olympics opening ceremony last year, we would do well to remember the ground-breaking work and social care afforded to everyone in the UK through this country’s unique healthcare system.

Despite budget cuts and hospital departmental closures, the Hippocratic Oath still remains at the heart of the way doctors’ practice medicine: treating the sick to the best of one’s ability, preserving patient confidentiality and teaching the secrets of medicine to the next generation.

The recent introduction of revalidation echoes the standards of care and ethics outlined in the Hippocratic Oath and will ensure that UK doctors continue to ‘act in the best interests of their patients and when unjust circumstances arise….strive to correct the injustice harming their patients’, which is the mainstay of the oath as described by medical ethicist Dr Denis Sokol.


So what is revalidation? Introduced across the UK on 3 December 2012 by the Secretary of State for Health, it is the process by which all doctors – NHS or private sector – are legally required to demonstrate to the General Medical Council (GMC) that they are up to date with the latest training, are complying with the relevant professional standards and are fit to practice.

Revalidation will be required by doctors every five years to ensure that they meet the standards set by the GMC, according to their speciality, in order to be able to maintain their licence to practice. It will be compulsory for all licenced doctors in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This will not only ensure best practice by doctors but will also reassure patients that their doctor is regularly being checked and that his or her medical skills are up to date and they are working to the correct professional standards.

Revalidation is an ongoing process, determined by regular appraisals with a doctor’s employer and patient feedback will also be taken into account. It is anticipated that the majority of licensed doctors will be revalidated for the first time by March 2016 and moving forward they will be required to revalidate again every five years. According to the NHS: ‘In these ways, revalidation will contribute to the on-going improvement in the quality of medical care delivered to patients throughout the UK.’

How does Revalidation Work?

  • Revalidation is based on the evaluation of a doctor’s performance, is indicated through on-going appraisals and doctors will need to gather a portfolio of supporting information for these appraisals.
  • Supporting information will include continuing professional development, colleague and patient feedback, complaints and compliments review, quality in practice information, significant events review, and Statement of Health and also Probity.
  • Each doctor will be assigned one Responsible Officer (RO) from a designated body (i.e your main employer) and only UK organisations can be designated bodies.
  • Your RO will ensure that good systems are in place for your revalidation, such as appraisals and clinical governance systems.
  • The annual appraisal system is very thorough and adheres to strict standards to ensure that it fully reflects a doctor’s ability to practice.
  • The RO will report back to the GMC with their recommendations on a doctor’s fitness to practice, based on the overall outcome of an annual appraisal over a five year period.
  • Their recommendations will determine whether a  doctor’s licence is renewed or not.

Doctors on Call (DOC), part of the Global Medics, is a rapid response supplier of locum doctors to the NHS framework and has been officially confirmed as one of the designated UK bodies for revalidation. With a team of five Responsible Officers throughout the UK, DOC has built an online Portfolio tool for doctors to help them manage their requirements – building a portfolio has been cited as a major concern for doctors. In addition, regional road shows will be staged to highlight the steps and processes required for revalidation. For further information call 0800 0320 040.

Additional Information:

Every licensed doctor should expect to be contacted by the end of January 2013 with details about when their revalidation process will start and who their RO will be. For further information about the process and what is involved, visit the following websites:


Global Medics is a leading medical recruitment company for doctors, working across two continents in four countries –  the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand – and provides career and immigration advice for doctors looking to work abroad.  For further information visit