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Appraisals win over GPs

Almost two-thirds of GPs now find annual appraisal a positive experience, signalling a sharp shift in attitudes to the system in recent years, an evaluation reveals.

Appraisals made half of GPs feel more confident in their work, although only a third believe that the process has helped improve the quality of the care they provide.

The findings, based on feedback from 414 GPs who underwent appraisal in Hertfordshire, come as good news for the GMC at a time when appraisal is set to become an important part of relicensing and recertification.

Dr Krishna Korlipara, former chair of the GMC's revalidation consultative group, said: 'It is good news that doctors now see that they have nothing to fear from the system.

'In the next 18 months the process will become more robust, but it would be a bad thing if this destroys the new confidence in the system.

'It is surely better to know early if doctors are lagging behind in a certain area, and improve, than to wait until they are the subject of a complaint.'

The survey also reported that 85 per cent of GPs considered their educational needs had been partially or fully met in the period between appraisals.

And more than 90 per cent of GPs rated their appraisers extremely highly – 57 per cent considered their appraiser to have been excellent and 36 per cent rated them as good.

Rachel Lea, LMC-PCT liaison manager for Hertfordshire, said: 'Some years ago, appraisals were seen as a complete waste of time, or threatening, but now they are seen as an important part of a GP's work and an opportunity for reflection.

'This study shows the Hertfordshire appraisal system has worked well, having been fully supported by the PCT.'

Dr Phillip Fielding, appraisal lead for Gloucestershire, said appraisals were bound to change as a result of the white paper on regulation.

'There will be an adjustment from the more purist attitude and educational approach to link some form of assessment to the review,' he said.

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