Doctors (below) must revalidate every five years. The FOM provides a Responsible Officer service to members who cannot contact an RO within their employer organisation.
As regards nurses (below), a three-yearly revalidation process is being introduced from April 2016.
Since 16 November 2009, all medical doctors practising in the UK have been required by the General Medical Council (GMC) to hold both a registration and a licence to practise. All UK doctors are now required to renew or ‘revalidate’ their licences. The process of revalidation – designed to ensure that all UK doctors remain fit to practice and that their knowledge, skills and training are up to date – began on 3 December 2012, with the coming into force of The General Medical Council (Licence to Practise and Revalidation) Regulations, SI 2012/2685.
Doctors must revalidate every five years, and this requires annual appraisals – carried out by a ‘responsible officer’ (see below) – based on the GMC’s Good medical practice guidance. Most practitioners should be revalidated by March 2016.
Responsible officers, including FOM
‘Responsible officers’ (ROs) play an important role in revalidation of doctors. They were introduced by regulations in 2010 (see below), and have local responsibility for overseeing the evaluation of fitness to practise and for monitoring the conduct and performance of doctors.
Most doctors will relate to the RO in the organisation where they are employed, for example the NHS or Armed Forces. However, many occupational health practitioners are not in this position, and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) provides an RO service to members who cannot contact an RO within their employer organisation – for example practitioners working independently, or in small non-designated organisations. Details of whether FOM or a different organisation is an individual’s ‘designated body’ are set out in the 2010 regulations.
FOM gives information at www.fom.ac.uk/professional-development/revalidation/do-i-need-to-revalidate-2, which includes a guide for doctors using its RO.
‘Responsible officers’ were introduced by The Medical Profession (Responsible Officers) Regulations 2010, under the Medical Act 1983. The provision saying that FOM is a member’s designated body where other provisions do not apply is regulation 10(1)(g)(i). The 2010 regulations have since been amended by the Medical Profession (Responsible Officers) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, which were necessary owing to changes in the NHS architecture and structures for public health. These came into force on 1 April 2013.
Starting in April 2016, all nurses and midwives on the NMC’s register will need to go through a ‘revalidation’ process as their registration becomes due for renewal. This will be required every three years, and replaces the post-registration education and practice (Prep) requirements which remain in place until then. Details are at www.nmc.org.uk/revalidation
Nurses will have to demonstrate they are up to date in their practice and are upholding the values of the NMC Code (www.nmc.org.uk/standards/code/) by reflecting on their practice and engaging in discussions with colleagues. For the first time, they will also have to obtain confirmation that they have met all the requirements before their three-yearly application to renew their place on the NMC register.
According to NMC guidance, revalidation is a continuous process that allows nurses and midwives to maintain their registration with the NMC and to demonstrate their continued ability to practise safely and effectively. But, says the NMC, it is not an assessment of their fitness to practice – the existing fitness-to-practice process will still apply.
The three-yearly online revalidation procedure requires evidence under the following subheadings:
- 450 practice hours (or 900 hours if revalidating as both nurse and midwife) – supporting evidence includes a record of dates, hours, location, scope of practice and type of work. The evidence might include a timesheet or job specification.
- 35 hours of continuing professional development (of which 20 must be participatory) – accurate and verifiable records are required.
- Five pieces of practice-related feedback – noting the content of the feedback and how it was used to improve practice.
- Five written reflective accounts – including an explanation of what was learnt.
- Reflective discussion – the supporting evidence must include the name and personal identification number of the NMC registrant (nurse or midwife) with whom the nurse/midwife had the discussion, as well as the date.
- Health and character – an online self-declaration.
- Professional indemnity arrangement – with evidence that this is in place and is appropriate.
- Confirmation – where possible the ‘confirmer’ should be a line manager (who does not have to be an NMC registrant). Where there is no line manager, the confirmer could be another NMC registrant ‘who is best placed to provide your confirmation’ or a UK-regulated healthcare professional with whom the nurse/midwife works.
The guidance includes details for each of these sections as well as a timetable and step-by-step guide to registering for an NMC Online account.
In 2017 the RCN published a guide for employers: RCN Guide to Revalidation for Employers: Mitigating the Risks to Your Business.