Mission doctors do not need to fear revalidation and may find the process helps them in applying for or maintaining registration in their host country. Dr Andrew Fergusson (previous CMF General Secretary) and I recently had the opportunity to discuss the consultation document about revalidation Ensuring standards, securing the future at the General Medical Council. We were informally reassured: 'It is essential that revalidation does not obstruct vital work by UK -registered doctors in mission and volunteer situations.'
The GMC hopes that 'a large proportion of doctors working overseas will be able to participate in revalidation if they so wish.' Some may face a period of supervised work or even some form of objective assessment. Some UK-based doctors working overseas may choose to go on the non-revalidating list, their qualifications nevertheless remaining valid. The GMC will clarify with national medical councils 'whether they would foresee difficulties with certificates of good standing that relate to doctors on the non-revalidating list or part of the Register'.
Meanwhile we are encouraging overseas doctors to start keeping folders that record what they do. Hospital annual reports, research evidence, visits by doctors from home, and refresher courses 'offer potential for the collection and frequent and regular review of information about doctors' fitness to practice'.
Assessment is planned on a five-year cycle. 'Revalidation groups based in the UK would be able to consider doctors' folders. These groups would need to be able to demonstrate understanding of the circumstances facing doctors working overseas for voluntary or missionary organisations.'
Non-revalidating doctors will be able to re-enter the list in the same way as those who have taken career breaks. The consultation document says 'many doctors should be encouraged to return to practice safely after a career break'. Another doctor in their host country should carry out an annual appraisal. One not on the UK Register (eg. visitor from USA) might be the appropriate person.
Guidelines will need to be produced, but those who begin to keep folders now may benefit and may even influence how the system develops. The folders will also provide them with an opportunity to give feedback on their work.