Changing how doctors collect and reflect on patient feedback for revalidation - Version for doctors and those who have knowledge of our revalidation requirements

Area of Consultation: Licensing & revalidation

  • Start:Apr 30, 2019
  • End:Jul 23, 2019
  • Results planned
    for publication:
    Jan 30, 2020
  • Reference number:64
  • Status:ClosedClosed

Consultation Summary:

We're consulting on some changes to our guidance for how doctors use patient feedback for their revalidation and we welcome your views.

It’s important that patients have the opportunity to give doctors feedback on the care they receive. We know doctors value feedback from their patients and find it one of the most helpful types of supporting information to reflect on at appraisal. This consultation does not ask whether doctors should be required to reflect on patient feedback as part of their revalidation. Instead it asks how they should do this.

By changing our guidance, we want the feedback to better support doctors’ learning and development and to make it easier for patients to take part.

How do I take part?

This online consultation document is aimed at those who have an understanding of the requirements of revalidation. If you haven’t already registered for our consultation website, you’ll need to do so before you can complete it. Please note that this is different from your GMC Online account. We recommend you read our revised guidance before you complete it which you can access by clicking on the further information button below. 

We’ve also developed a separate version of the consultation document aimed at patients, carers and members of the public. If you want to complete this version you can find it on our consultation website

If you are not able to complete the consultation online you can download and complete the consultation offline in Adobe reader, and send your response to or by post to: Patient Feedback Consultation, Registration and Revalidation, General Medical Council, Regent's Place, 350 Euston Road, London NW1 3JN.

You can find all versions of the questionnaires (including in Welsh) and the revised guidance in a pdf format on our website

If you need these documents in another format or language, call us on 0161 923 6602 or email us at


All licensed doctors must revalidate to maintain their licence to practise and show they are up to date and fit to practise medicine in the UK.

The requirements for revalidation are published in our Supporting information for appraisal and revalidation guidance, which details the six types of information doctors must collect and reflect on at their annual appraisal to revalidate. One of the requirements is to reflect on feedback from patients at least once every five years, collected using a structured questionnaire. You can read our revalidation guidance on our website at

Doctors in UK training revalidate by engaging in their training programme and so these requirements should not apply to them. However, if they undertake practice that requires a licence outside of their training programme they should discuss this with their responsible officer.

What led to this consultation?

An independent review of revalidation called Taking Revalidation Forward (by Sir Keith Pearson, 2017) found that patient feedback can be the most useful type of supporting information for doctors to reflect on at appraisal. However, he also found that mechanisms for collecting feedback are inflexible, the patient sample too small and not representative, and patients often feel unable to give honest views for fear of a negative impact on their care.

An independent evaluation of revalidation carried out by UMbRELLA in 2018 echoed many of these findings and stated that ‘existing tools and processes need to be refined due to perceived inadequacy repeatedly expressed by patients and doctors.’

In response we committed to making changes to our revalidation requirements.

What we’ve done so far

In 2018 we sought views of our stakeholders on our patient feedback requirements and how they would like them to change. This included meetings and workshops with a range of doctors, responsible officers, suitable persons, appraisers, patient organisations and lay people from across the UK.

We also reviewed a number of relevant research papers and feedback we’d received on our requirements since they were introduced in 2012.

The proposed changes to our guidance in this consultation were drafted in collaboration with an advisory group, made up of employers, doctors, responsible officers (NHS and independent) and lay people. The findings from our engagement with stakeholders informed the work of this group.

What we want to achieve?

By revising our guidance we’re aiming to increase the value of patient feedback for doctors’ learning and professional development and introduce more flexibility in how doctors can collect it. We want doctors to be able to use helpful patient feedback that they can already access, for example through their employer, to reduce duplication.

We also want to make it easier for patients to give their feedback, and reduce barriers some can face in doing this.

Equality and diversity

We will carry out an equality analysis as we develop our guidance, to identify steps we must take to comply with the aims of the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010. Responses to this consultation will help us understand how any changes to our guidance could impact on doctors, patients and members of the public who share protected characteristics.

What happens next?

We will analyse all responses to this consultation and take them into account when finalising changes to our requirements. Subject to the outcome of this consultation, we aim to publish the revised requirements early in 2020.

Further Information


What are we asking for your views on?

There are 14 questions in this consultation. While you don’t have to answer them all, your views are important, so please complete as many as you can. Below is a list of areas we’re interested in hearing your views on: 

  • The key principles that doctors need to consider when reflecting on patient feedback for revalidation (question 1)
  • How to apply the principles, including:
    • annual reflection on existing sources of patient feedback (question 2)
    • retaining a periodic formal feedback exercise (question 3)
    • guidance on questions to ask patients (question 4)
    • using solicited and unsolicited feedback (question 5)
    • support from organisations where doctors work (question 6)
    • the approach for doctors who don’t see patients (question 7)
    • making patient feedback more accessible and representative (question 8)
    • involving patients in developing feedback tools (question 9)
    • any other comments on the revised guidance (question 10)
  • Implementation and transitional arrangements (question 11)
  • Equality and diversity considerations (questions 12 and 13)
  • Further comments on the proposed changes to the patient feedback requirements (question 14).

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