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Most NHS organisations are ready to support doctors with formal assessments, says NHS Employers

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NHS Employers says most organisations are now ready to begin medical revalidation and has urged a Government decision to start the process later this year to ensure patients have access to the highest quality care.

The Organisational Readiness Self-Assessment report, published this week by the Government's NHS Revalidation Support Team, says most organisations are ready to support doctors with revalidation.

It is hoped revalidation will ensure all doctors' skills are regularly and formally assessed, for the first time, in order to protect patient care and safety.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said: "Revalidation is an important step in making sure patients have access to the safest care and NHS Employers is committed to helping organisations make it work. We have been working closely with the BMA, GMC, patient groups and the UK Revalidation Programme Board to get to this stage.

"We are delighted with the progress employers have made to get ready for revalidation.

"The introduction of regular tests and more appraisals for doctors will be a milestone which should reassure the public that their medical care is up to date, safe and effective. Employers will ensure that all doctors are engaged with the process and have access to appraisals, which will become a mandatory part of retaining their licence to practise.

"Some doctors, such as Staff and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors, have historically had lower numbers being appraised compared to others. To address this, NHS Employers will support doctors with a range of activities in the coming months to help them engage with the process, including webinars and regional workshops.

"Revalidation has been a long time in the making and we now need to take the final step and get it up and running.

"We would welcome a decision by the Government to begin revalidation before the end of 2012."

Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, of which NHS Employers is a part, said: "Revalidation is a major step forward for patients. In fact, many would be surprised to find that doctors aren't already subject to regular assessments.

"These new checks will be an opportunity to address the bigger picture of clinical governance. I would encourage NHS boards to become engaged with revalidation and the crucial role it will play in the continual improvement of services we provide to patients."

The General Medical Council (GMC) announced in July that the systems, processes, and infrastructure it needs to support the introduction of revalidation are in place for December 2012.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley is expected to announce a decision in late September or early October 2012.