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, and to 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, 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 LMC has been heavily involved in shaping and monitoring these arrangements. However a is currently being considered for adoption. Until such time as it is formally adopted Area Teams are expected to work within the spirit of the document. 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 no one mandated form of documentation or electronic toolkit that must be used – the default position is the MAG Form
  • 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.

Appraisal can be a particularly challenging process for locum GPs in gathering and validating their supporting information. The LMC is active in a number of forums to ease the process for these doctors. There is also uncertainty nationally about the reimbursement of expenses for locums preparing for and undertaking their appraisal. The LMC will continue to lobby for the continuation of this funding.

Appraisal is linked to the process of revalidation. Every five years, 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.

Any doctor experiencing problems with the appraisal process, or who considers they are being treated unfairly by the Area Team should contact Duncan McGrath in the LMC Office (01772 863806) in the first instance.

There is a large amount of literature on appraisal, sometimes linked to revalidation material. The GMC document  sets out the broad areas which should be covered in medical appraisal and on which recommendations to revalidate doctors will be based. Further detail on the supporting information that doctors will need to use to demonstrate that they are continuing to meet the principles and values set out in Good Medical Practice are contained in . The Revalidation Support Team webpage Medical Appraisal Guide (MAG) describes how medical appraisal will work within the context of revalidation. Doctors can use the model MAG form to carry out their appraisal. Download and view the . Also of relevance is the  which explains what the GMC expects all doctors to do to maintain and improve their practice through CPD.

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