DOCTORS will be required to have regular assessments to see if they are providing the correct level of care and service for patients under new rules introduced today.

The General Medical Council has introduced a new revalidation process, described as the biggest change in medical regulation for more than 150 years, which will see see doctors taking annual checks to ensure they have the correct training and level competency expected of them.

Currently, doctors can go their entire career without facing any formal assessment of their ability.

But under the new plans, annual appraisals will come into effect and will include patient feedback and comprehensive meetings every five years to review their skills.

Dr Peter Swinyard, who is based at the Phoenix Surgery in Toothill and is National Chairman of the Family Doctor Association, said: "Doctors have nothing to worry about the revalidation agenda has been brewing for some time and doctors already have appraisals every year.

"There’s a public demand for it but it’s onerous for us to do.

"It will come at a considerable cost of £97m, which is money which could be spent elsewhere in the health sector.

"People need to think do you want to trust your doctors or have a hip replacement? If the public are happy to spend £97m in order to trust their doctor then I’m not against it.”

The UK is the first country in the world to introduce such a system across its whole healthcare system, covering GPs, hospital doctors, locums and those working in the independent sector.

A spokesman for the GMC said: “Revalidation is not a panacea, it is not a magic bullet to guarantee that care is safe or that every doctor is prefect, it will take time to settle in, we need to evaluate and the improve the model”.

The GMC will start writing to 13,000 doctors today, telling them they will revalidate and it expects to revalidate the majority of licensed doctors by March 2016.