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Annual appraisals resumed

PCTs that suspended annual

appraisals for GPs last year to help clear budget deficits have pledged that they will be reinstated from this month.

A number of PCTs – including Bath and North East Somerset, Cambridgeshire, West Kent and Worcestershire – froze or cut funding for appraisals last year.

This meant the frequency of appraisal for some GPs was increased to 18 months.

The Department of Health said it would not intervene because there was no obligation for PCTs to provide appraisals annually – it was simply considered 'best practice'.

But all the PCTs have now committed to return to annual appraisals this year.

A spokesperson for Bath and North East Somerset PCT said the extension to an 18-month frequency had been 'for a very short period'.

'We extended the time between appraisals because of

specific circumstances, but this year we are back to normal.'

A spokesperson for Worcestershire PCT said: 'We can confirm that the GP appraisal scheme will take place across Worcestershire again with effect from April 2007, following a temporary six-month suspension.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC

negotiator and Leeds LMC

secretary, said the return to an annual frequency showed that PCTs were 'seeing sense and recognising the value of appraisals for the development of GPs in particular areas, and for reassuring patients'.

'With the white paper shifting the focus of appraisals to accreditation, it is even more important that PCTs support

a robust system of appraisals and make sure it is fully funded,' he added.

However, while funding looks set to enable annual appraisals to resume for PMS and GMS principals, locum appraisals are still not being funded in some areas.

Last year, Ealing PCT refused to pay locums for the time they spent preparing and attending appraisals – a policy that is being continued this year.

pulse@cmpmedica.com

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