Appraisal is not a process of assessment that one passes or fails, and is not about scrutinising doctors to see if they are performing poorly. Appraisal is about helping individuals to improve the way they work and the services they provide, themselves and with others. Appraisal goes beyond simply judging individuals on what they have achieved over the past year. It offers a framework for planned, constructive and professional dialogue. It provides the opportunity for reflection about current performance and progress. This is used as a platform to set goals for future professional practice and development which will also contribute to the needs of the organisation in which the individual works. Appraisals should therefore be a positive, constructive process which is mutually beneficial to both the individuals being appraised and also to the organisation in which they work. Finally the aim of appraisals is to provide a report to the Responsible Officer of the Designated Body, upon which a recommendation to the GMC can be made as to the practitioner’s fitness to practice.
Revalidation is the process whereby the General Medical Council establishes a doctor’s fitness to practice and with it, the right to provide clinical services as a licensed doctor in the UK. The process is structured as a five year cycle, this essentially being a retrospective process looking at clinical performance over the previous five years. In the case of an appraisal, it is employed in a formative way on a year-to-year basis to ensure development of professional practice and to set professional objectives. Clinical governance is seen as corporate responsibility for clinical performance and is a clear responsibility of all Designated Bodies. They are required to fulfil this responsibility by pulling together and monitoring the systems that ensure services meet quality and safety standards. The appraisal arrangements are an important element in that overall process. A combination of these requirements: revalidation, personal development and clinical governance is at the heart of the appraisal and revalidation scheme.
There is no flexibility on this at all. If you want to retain your GMC licence and provide any clinical services in the UK you will need to have an accredited appraisal every year. Culminating in a recommendation by your Responsible Officer to retain your licence. In addition, appraisals are now a condition of the National Employment Contract for consultants and refusal to participate would be a breach of contract and a disciplinary matter. Doctors applying for new jobs will usually be asked to provide evidence of their previous appraisals. Occasionally, a doctor may choose to remain registered as a medical practitioner, without a license to practice. This may apply if the doctor has temporarily suspended clinical activities, say due to maternity leave or a sabbatical, with a view to resuming clinical work at a later time. If you believe this category of registration applies to you contact the GMC for advice, or contact us at the Doctors Appraisal Consultancy for more information.
There is specific criteria for doctors to act as an appraiser, under the current regulations. Appraisals can be conducted by a medical practitioner who has been registered for at least 5 years, and has received approved appropriate training in the doctor’s appraisal process. Crucially for such an appraisal to be accepted for revalidation purposes the Responsible Officer must have created a relationship with the appraiser, to enable him to rely on the appraisal to enable a recommendation for re-licensing to be made. In the independent sector there are a number of appraisers who have developed experience in appraisal processes through the NHS appraisal system. The appraiser that you choose does not have to come from the specialty from which you are practising. Appraisal training provides the appraiser with the tools to provide a comprehensive and fair appraisal to any medical colleague. Many doctors prefer to have an appraisal from an appraiser with a different background to themselves. Others feel that their specialty raises specific issues that only a colleague in the same specialty can review fairly and prefer to see a peer from their own specialty. However under the current regulations it is evident that the Responsible Officer of your designated organisation (the body through which you are being revalidated) will need to use the information from the appraiser as a basis to make their decisions as to your fitness to practice. In this situation the Responsible Officer will need to check the experience and training of the appraiser, so they will have confidence in their ability to provide an appraisal process of high quality. In the event of your Designated Body not being able to provide you with an appraisal with an appraiser of whom you approve, or for more general information about the issue of choosing an appraiser, contact us at the Doctors Appraisal Consultancy for more information
The appraisal process is not intended to require the generation of significant amounts of new evidence or information; rather it should aim to capture relevant information that already exists. What goes into the folder will, in many cases, be available from clinical governance activity, the job planning process and other existing sources. The process itself may assist doctors to identify the data they would consider relevant to their specialty or personal clinical practice that would be usefully brought to their appraisal. One result of the appraisal process will be to identify areas where there are gaps to be filled or where perhaps data need to be better collated or presented. This is likely to be more apparent in the early years after appraisal is launched. Doctors will need to consider which documents they will require to collect for the appraisal process in light of the circulars and other guidance they receive. Your Designated Body should, in due course, issue guidance on good practice within its specialty.
At the time of writing appraisals can be conducted by a medical practitioner who has been registered for at least 5 years, and has received approved appropriate training in the doctors appraisal process.
Crucially for such an appraisal to be accepted for revalidation purposes the RO must have created a relationship with the appraiser, to enable him to rely on the appraisal to enable a recommendation for re-licensing to be made.
DAC is a well-established organisation that each year provides support services for hundreds of doctors undergoing appraisal and revalidation. We help doctors from a wide range of backgrounds specialties and scopes of practice. DAC has excellent feedback from doctors using our service, and we are repeatedly told that doctors find this good value for money with exceptional personal service and support. DAC offers flexibility for dates and times for appraisal interviews, including out of office hours and weekends in addition to video conference if requested. Short notice appraisal appointments can also be arranged.