Doctors must revalidate in order to maintain their licence to practise in the UK. The General Medical Council (GMC) is responsible for revalidating doctors, to ensure that a doctor is up to date and fit to practise.

For non-training grades, revalidation is based on a local evaluation of doctors’ practice through appraisal. Doctors are expected to participate in annual appraisal in the workplace over a five-year revalidation cycle, and will need to collate a portfolio of required supporting information to bring to their appraisal as a basis for discussion. The supporting information will demonstrate that they are keeping up to date and have met the requirements for Good Medical Practice

The GMC has set out its generic requirements for medical practice and appraisal in three main documents. These are supported by guidance from the medical royal colleges and faculties, which give the specialty context for the supporting information required for appraisal. Doctors should ensure that they are familiar with the following documents:

Doctors should also have regard for any guidance that their employing or contracting organisation may provide concerning local policies. 

For doctors working in England please see the NHS England website.

For doctors working in Scotland, please see the Medical Appraisal Scotland website.

For doctors working in Wales, please see the Medical and Appriasal Revalidation website.

For doctors working in Northern Ireland, please see the DHSSPS website

A doctor will be recommended for revalidation to the GMC by their Responsible Officer (RO), normally every five years, based on:

  • Information provided from the five annual appraisals 
  • A completed portfolio of supporting information 
  • An absence of concerns about their practice raised through local clinical governance routes. 

The RO will make one of three statements to the GMC:

  1. That the doctor is up to date, fit to practise and should be revalidated 
  2. That the recommendation should be deferred while more information is obtained – for example where a doctor has taken a  career break
  3. That the doctor has failed to engage with any of the local systems of processes (such as appraisal) that support revalidation.  

In the last case the doctor may be referred to a GMC fitness to practise panel to consider whether the doctor’s licence to practise should be revoked. It is only the GMC that can give or revoke the licence to practise.

It should be noted that if serious concerns arise about a doctor’s fitness to practice at any time before the revalidation date, those concerns should be raised with the GMC. This should take place at the time concerns arise, and not put off until the doctor’s revalidation date.

Revalidation is not about pass or fail.  It is a supportive and developmental process designed to provide assurance about a doctor’s fitness to practice. It enables doctors to identify areas for improvement at an early stage within a structured approach to personal development.