How to... prepare for an appraisal
To describe anything as 'an opportunity not a threat' has become a cliche. But it is the right way to approach your appraisal.
Here are some tips:
1) Most GPs will exceed the standard expected. You might surprise yourself when you start to list all your achievements when preparing for the appraisal.
2) The process is based on the GMC leaflet Good Medical Practice. The forms follow the areas of 'Good clinical care', 'Maintaining good practice', 'Teaching and training', 'Relationships with patients', 'Working with colleagues', 'Probity' and 'Health'.
3) How much you gain from your appraisal depends on the preparation. The pre-appraisal forms will guide you through the process. They can be accessed and filled in online at www.appraisals.nhs.uk. If the appraiser is registered, all the paperwork can also be completed online.
4) The ideas on the preparation form can be expanded to develop an appraisal folder. This can contain hard data on clinical performance, courses attended, audit, research and teaching.
5) Although we can learn from complaints, the evidence suggests that there is a poor correlation between complaints and standards.
6) None of us shines in every area – for example, you may not be involved in teaching or research. But even here it is worthwhile reflecting on your work. Many GPs put down that they do not teach but then realise they train receptionists or mentor nurses.
7) Two of the most important areas – and most difficult areas to assess – are probity and health. We know many doctors suffer from stress-related illnesses, so you may be asked whether you are registered with a GP yourself or if you have ever self-prescribed.
8) The appraiser should understand the work of the appraisee. Ideally he or she should be a practicing colleague. A doctor who has been a GP principal for 20 years may not understand the problems faced by a non-principal who is surviving on locums.
9) Both appraiser and appraisee have a responsibility to protect patients. In the unlikely event that an appraiser finds evidence the appraisee is putting patients at risk, they must stop the process and report it to a senior clinician, a clinical governance lead and the PCT chief executive.
In future, all doctors will need to be relicensed and doctors will need to be recertified for that specialty. The Royal College will oversee recertification and it is likely that appraisals will still play a part.
Dr Peter Moore is a GP in Torquay, Devon