GMC requirements for supporting information.
The GMC requires all licensed doctors to collect specified supporting information for revalidation.
It is not enough to simply collect the information.
The GMC requires you to reflect on your supporting information and what it says about your practice, which will help you to improve the quality of care you give to patients, and the services you provide as a doctor.
Doctors are also required to bring the supporting information to annual appraisal and to discuss with the appraiser.
This reflection and discussion should focus on what has been learned, what changes have been made or are planned to make, and any areas of good practice to maintain or build on.
The supporting information you must bring to your appraisal falls under four broad headings:
- General information - Providing context about what you do in all aspects of your work
- Keeping up to date - Maintaining and enhancing the quality of your professional work
- Review of your practice - Evaluating and improving the quality of your professional work
- Feedback on your practice - Seeking and acting on feedback about the quality of your professional work
The GMC website contains up to date guidance
There are six categories of supporting information:
- Continuing professional development
- Quality improvement activity
- Significant events
- Feedback from patients or those to whom you provide medical services
- Feedback from colleagues
- Compliments and complaints
By reflecting on, and discussing, all six categories of supporting information through appraisal, over the revalidation cycle, you will be able to demonstrate how your practice matches the principles and values set out by the GMC in the good medical practice for appraisal and revalidation
This will make it easier for your responsible officer to make a recommendation to the GMC about your revalidation.
Using the MARS website to meet GMC revalidation requirements for supporting information
The MARS website guides you through the entry of all the required information.
You should enter general information about all the work you do as a doctor under your details in the personal and professional information and activities sections, and you should ensure this is up to date at every appraisal.
You will also be prompted to complete the required health and probity statements for every appraisal.
MARS allows you to select one or more of the relevant GMC category of supporting information when you make your appraisal entries.
The headings in the MARS templates are designed to help ensure you include the required information.
After each appraisal discussion your appraiser will write a summary of the appraisal, and will ‘verify’ any supporting information where you have agreed that GMC requirements have been met into the ‘Revalidation’ page of the summary.
This ‘Revalidation’ page in your appraisal summary will feed in to your overall ‘Revalidation Progress’ page on MARS.
On your ‘Revalidation Progress’ page, you can see your progress towards revalidation requirements for each appraisal in the current revalidation cycle.
Verified supporting information will be clearly marked.
You can also see your current revalidation date, and your revalidation history.
You should keep an eye on this record, and identify any supporting information still outstanding, so that you can meet the requirements for revalidation in good time, and ensure that you are ‘revalidation ready’ by the last appraisal in the cycle.
Your current appraiser can see the record, and will also remind you of any outstanding obligations as needed.
Your Responsible Officer has access to your ‘Revalidation Progress’ information on MARS, and can see which supporting information has been verified at appraisal, as well as any that requires more work, or has not yet been presented. This helps them to make a revalidation recommendation to the GMC when due.
Quality not quantity
It is important that your supporting information is of sufficient quality to support your learning and development, and helps you reflect to identify areas for improvement and strengths in your practice. The GMC does not set a minimum or maximum quantity of supporting information.
Your appraisal folder needs to include enough supporting information to enable a meaningful appraisal discussion to take place.
Participating in appraisal should enhance, and not detract from your work. Appraisal is a professional activity that should support professional development and provide the required assurance of practice, whilst not being overly burdensome.
How much is ‘enough’?
Always include essential information.
For example, sometimes your organisation may ask you to bring specific information to the appraisal, eg the outcomes of an investigation or complaint. This must be included so that you can discuss it with your appraiser, and your appraiser can record it in your appraisal summary.
Some appraisal folders will need to include specific categories of supporting information collected that year for revalidation e.g. patient and colleague surveys, QIA.
Other information for revalidation includes a review of any significant events, complaints or compliments over the appraisal year.
There is no need to document every detail of your educational activity over the appraisal period. You should be selective and provide high-quality examples of reflection on your most significant activities, to make up a balanced appraisal folder.
There is no need for you to scan, or provide, copies of certificates for appraisal and revalidation where learning has been demonstrated through an appropriate reflective entry. It may be a good idea to save important certificates or documents on MARS where they can be accessed if needed e.g. certificates for mandatory training. It is more important to upload supporting documents that add value to your appraisal entry. This is particularly important for QIA and feedback questionnaires, where the full details will help your appraiser assess whether you have met revalidation requirements.
With experience, and through discussion with your appraisers, you will develop a good idea of what is ‘enough’.
Some Colleges have specific CPD requirements, for example 50 hours/credits of CPD activity a year. These are not a GMC requirement for appraisal or revalidation. Selected examples of mandatory CPD may of course be included in your appraisal folder, and it would be best use of your appraisal to include those that have had the most impact, or where you feel further discussion with your appraiser would add value by helping you to plan further development.
Supporting information should be from UK practice
Revalidation assures patients and the public that doctors remain up to date and fit to practise, in line with the standards of practice required in the UK. It is founded on the principle that you have met the professional expectations placed on you as a doctor practising in the UK
The GMC expects you to collect, reflect on and discuss supporting information generated from your whole UK practice as outlined in their guidance
It is important that you speak to your responsible officer if you intend to practise overseas while holding a UK licence to practise, and discuss how you can meet GMC requirements for supporting information and whole practice appraisals.
Only in exceptional circumstances would a doctor with supporting information drawn from practice wholly or significantly overseas be able to maintain their UK licence to practise.
Reflection is essential
Ongoing reflection on your practice is central to revalidation and should form part of the preparation for your annual appraisal
The GMC requires you to reflect on your supporting information.
- Reflect on your activity and learning – at the time, afterwards, with your team, as you write your appraisal entry, and at your appraisal discussion
- Focus on changes to your practice and the impact on patients
- Evidence of reflection and outcomes of the activity are more important than lengthy descriptions of what you did
- The MARS template headings are there to help you
- Uploaded supporting documents may provide the detail of what you did, so that you can focus on writing up your reflections and outcomes in the templates
More information is provided on our reflective practice page
Anonymised information will usually be sufficient for purposes other than the direct care of the patient and you must use it in preference to identifiable information wherever possible
Further GMC guides on confidentiality
The GMC requirements highlight the importance of reflection on supporting information.
Doctors should write their reflections in a professional and factual manner.
The identity of individuals should be anonymised and the focus should be on learning and what might be done to improve.
It is essential to ensure that third parties, be they patients or colleagues, cannot be identified.
When making written reflection of sensitive matters at appraisal a doctor needs to find a sensible professional balance, to provide evidence of effective reflection whilst avoiding inappropriate over-sharing.
When supporting documents contain identifiable information, it may be more appropriate to bring them to the appraisal discussion, rather than trying to redact and upload to MARS.
Anonymity is not just removing patient identifiable information i.e. name address etc. Think about what would happen if someone from outside your organisation saw it. In certain rare events or high profile cases information in the public domain might make the entry identifiable even though you have not included this information - the so called “motivated intruder” test. You should always think about this test when putting your entries into MARS. The information commissioner provides information and advice on the subject in sections 2 and 3 of their anonymisation code. Remember in appraisal the focus is on learning, not on what happened to an individual, so we do not need a lot of information about the specifics of the case but more about what you felt you needed to learn from any event.