For information and resources specific to Sessional GPs please visit our Sessional GPs section
It is obligatory for all NHS GPs to undergo the annual appraisal process in order to stay on the performers list. The aim of the appraisal is to allow GPs to reflect on their practice, identify their strengths and weaknesses and any related training needs. It is a formative process of reviewing, with a peer, your activity and achievement over the previous year, together with identifying learning needs and developing a Personal Development Plan for the forthcoming year. Appraisal is organised on an NHS England Area Team basis with clinical leads and a small administrative team to support the process. Both Area Teams (Lancashire and Cumbria, Northumberland & Tyne & Wear) are currently working to historical local policies and procedures.
The key elements of the Appraisal Policy are:
- The Pairing of a doctor with an Appraiser should be a consensual process involving choice
- There is, at the moment, not one mandated form of documentation or electronic toolkit that must be used – the default position is the Medical Appraisal Guide
- The process should move towards appraisals being carried out based on birth month of the doctor being appraised. Within this framework the doctor should have a window of 84 days prior to the end of their birth month. No doctor should be appraised less than 9 months or more than 15 months from the previous appraisal.
- The storing and sharing of appraisal information must follow strict rules.
For information on the stages in the appraisal process please see guidance from the NHS Revalidation Support Team.
The LMC is active in a number of forums to ease the process for these doctors. Any doctor experiencing problems with the appraisal process, or who considers they are being treated unfairly by the Area Team should contact the LMC Office.
The restart of appraisals during COVID-19
To allow doctors to focus on the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, the appraisal process were paused in March 2020. In most of the UK, they were then resumed in October 2020.
Since the restart, Medical appraisal 2020 has been introduced as the new approach to appraisals. It is a streamlined appraisal format that meets revalidation requirements and places more focus on wellbeing. It is also intended to reduce pre-appraisal paperwork requirements. It can be used across the UK.
The meaning of the term Revalidation is ‘the evaluation of a medical practitioner’s fitness to practise’ (Medical Act, 1983). The process of revalidation is one in which doctors need to positively affirm to the General Medical Council (GMC) that they are up to date and fit to practice based on the principles and values of Good Medical Practice. This is required every five years where each doctor’s Responsible Officer will recommend him or her for revalidation by the GMC and the process by which this is done will partly be based on evidence of the doctor’s participation in the appraisal process.
To administer the process of revalidation each doctor is associated with a “Responsible Officer (RO)” who makes recommendations to the GMC about their fitness to practice. For the vast majority of GPs the Responsible Officer is the Medical Director of NHS England for the area in which they practice. For our area these are:
- Dr K Murphy (Medical Director & Responsible Officer at NHS England Lancashire and Cheshire & Merseyside)
- Dr M Prentice (Medical Director & Responsible Officer at NHS England Cumbria & North East)
The key point for all doctors is to ensure they know who their RO is. The revalidation process started in 2012, with RO’s and clinical leaders in the first tranche. All doctors should by now have been allocated a “Revalidation Year” to ensure that all are revalidated within the 5 year cycle.
There are 5 things each GP should have in place before they go through the revalidation process.
- Ensure that you have a responsible officer – if not, inform the GMC.
- Ensure that your annual appraisals are properly conducted.
- Register with and use a revalidation e-portfolio or equivalent for your appraisals.
- If you haven’t done a patient or colleague feedback survey in the past three years, plan to do them.
- If you haven’t done a full cycle clinical audit in the past three years, plan to do one.
Useful resources for appraisal and revalidation:
RCGP - Evidence of fitness to practice, collating feedback, quality improvement activity and SE.
CPD GP tools – free learning material
E – learning for health care – For information on statutory and mandatory training
FourteenFish Appraisal Toolkit – Appraisal Toolkit for Doctors