The College has a responsibility for maintaining the highest standards of professional practice through training, assessments, examinations and professional development, for the benefit of the public. One important aspect of this task has been to provide a specialist contribution to the medical revalidation process. Unfortunately, there will be occasions when pathologists fall short of the standards required for successful revalidation and may require remediation of their practice.

Remediation is defined as ‘the overall process agreed with the practitioner to redress identified aspects of underperformance’. Remediation is a broad concept varying from informal agreements to carry out a specific area of re-skilling to more formal programmes including supervised comprehensive re-training and/or rehabilitation.

The College cannot be directly responsible for the support and guidance processes necessary for retraining/remediation of doctors. The primary responsibility normally lies with the doctor’s employer (or Designated Body) and in particular, the organisation’s Responsible Officer (RO). In turn, they may require advice and input from the General Medical Council (GMC) and the National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS). There is general agreement that wherever possible, initial remediation and support should be provided at a local level.

Working with others

The College has an important role in providing specialty-specific advice to those with primary responsibility for the remediation of its members. It is developing links with NCAS to ensure that such advice is available as early as possible in the remediation planning process to ensure maximum benefit to the individual, the employer and ultimately, the public. We intend to work closely with the GMC, NCAS and employers to guide the appropriate use of methodologies, processes and tools in remediation.

We are also working with other medical Royal Colleges and Faculties through the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) to respond to the recommendations detailed in the 2011 Department of Health Steering Group Report on Remediation.

Areas for development

The College considers it important to ensure a consistent professional approach to remediation and to develop methodologies, processes and tools that are both useful and proportionate. We intend to adapt those which have been developed within the College for use in pathology training and assessment, as appropriate for specific remediation issues.

It is apparent from NCAS data that most remediation issues in the pathology disciplines are generic and relate to behavioural, personality and health concerns. Deficiencies in knowledge and technical ability are much less common and when these are a factor it is likely that College advice with need to be highly individualised. The specific circumstances of each case will differ and cannot be predicted in advance.