All doctors involved in clinical practice in the UK have been required to revalidate with the GMC since 2012. The process of revalidation involves a senior doctor from the organisation to which the doctor is linked, making a recommendation to the GMC that the doctor is fit to practice. As long as the GMC accepts this statement the doctor is then relicensed for a further five years. The doctor making this recommendation is usually a responsible officer (RO), although in some circumstances a ‘suitable person’, as recognised by the GMC can carry out this function. Those doctors working mainly for the NHS or a specific private hospital will relate to the RO attached to that organisation, but those who work mainly or solely in the independent sector, will have to identify an RO themselves. This decision will relate to their clinical work.

For information and guidance on this subject contact DOCTORS APPRAISAL CONSULTANCY through this website. Various organisations such as Royal Colleges and Faculties, will set specialty standards for revalidation. These will develop a series of standards for all doctors practising within their specialty and identify a range of supporting information for revalidation. Therefore the information from appraisals, and the clinical governance structure of the body to which you have a “prescribed connection” will accumulate in five year revalidation cycles and will lead to a single recommendation to the GMC from the RO every five years. We are continuing to use the term ‘revalidation’ for this process described above, although it is likely that soon the word “relicensing” will replace this.

Appraisals – Background Information

Appraisal meetings are face-to-face or video-conference meetings between the appraiser and the doctor and normally lasts between one and two hours. The appraisal duration will vary depending upon the individual’s circumstances, and in particular with the amount and quality of the supporting information provided prior to the appraisal meeting.
It is now accepted as the norm for both the appraiser and the doctor having the appraisal to use a customised on online appraisal form.

Appraisal meetings do not have to follow a rigid format, although they will usually cover areas including the clarification of the doctor’s progress over the previous year and any particular issues to be considered. The doctor, (‘appraisee’) should discuss the Personal Development Plan (PDP) from the previous year and attention to the success or otherwise of meeting the objectives in that PDP should be noted early on. In the case of a first appraisals for doctors who have had no appraisal experience previously there may be no PDP to discuss. In this case the appraisal process would focus on the educational needs of the doctor, and to identify educational activities that will support their personal development over the revalidation / relicensing five year cycle.

After the meeting the appraiser will spend time reviewing the supporting information provided during the appraisal interview, and complete the sections of the online appraisal form, and also write-up some “output statements” which conclusions relate to the doctors clinical work, in the context of their fitness to practice. Typical areas that will have been covered during the appraisal would include conclusions about the doctor’s quality improvement activity, significant events, complaints and compliments, colleague patient feedback, and a general assessment of the appraisal process. Another important part of the appraisal outputs statements by the appraiser to the responsible officer with respect to the doctor’s fitness to practice. These “appraisal outputs” include confirmation to the RO that the appraisal has covered all the doctors scope of work, there has been sufficient supporting information provided, there being appropriate progress with previous PDPs, the development of a new PDP and confirmation that the appraiser considers that the appraisee is practising and performing in line with the principles and values set out in the GMC’s document good medical practice.

Appraisals – The Personal Development Plan

The PDP is a record of the agreed personal and/or professional development needs to be pursued throughout the following year, as agreed in the appraisal discussion between the Doctor and the appraiser. The doctor and the appraiser should agree a new PDP at the end of appraisal. The PDP is an itemised list of personal objectives for the coming year, with an indication of the period of time in which items should be completed. The PDP represents the primary developmental output for the appraiser, and indicates certain aspects of the doctor’s professional behaviour and thus the ability to produce an effective PDP in itself contributes to the assessment against the standards in the GMC framework for appraisal and revalidation. The items in the plan may include specific, educational or learning tasks, for example visiting another unit to learn from best practice, specific tasks linked to areas of potential concern, for example undertaking an audit in an area of clinical practice or agreement as to which aspects of appraisal need to be completed before the next appraisal cycle, for example obtaining formal feedback from users and carers. The content of a Personal Development Plan should be sufficiently challenging and ambitious to enable the doctor to improve practice but manageable within the context of the doctor’s competing professional pressures.  
Much of the appraisal form should be completed prior to the time of the appraisal, in particular the Personal Development Plan, which both the appraiser and appraisee should agree. The appraiser then reflects on the entire process and complete the form, and supporting evidence, including the final output statement summarising the appraisal.