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Revalidation is not to be feared and can be achieved by continuous objective assessment

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Medical professionalism in the United Kingdom has been a contentious issue for over a decade.1,2 Lack of competence may contribute to patient harm and is, therefore, part of the debate involved in defining and assessing professional competence.3,4

The International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities defines revalidation as “the process by which doctors have to regularly show that they are up to date, and fit to practice medicine”.5 On 3 December 2012, the UK General Medical Council (GMC) introduced revalidation procedures that require doctors to collect evidence of professional competence and fitness to practice in their current role. This evidence is presented by a “responsible officer”, who is usually the medical director of the hospital or primary care provider, directly to the GMC for appraisal; but more may be required.6 The time taken to collect and analyse the portfolio and sources available are all contentious issues, along with the cost of the revalidation process. To understand this bureaucratic drive to demonstrable competence and to identify mechanisms to achieve this laudable goal, it is necessary to understand the context in which these proposals were developed.