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Almost 90% of GPs found their appraisal useful for improving patient care

The majority of GPs in England have said their appraisal has contributed to improvements in patient care, according to a new survey.

The report by NHS England found that 88% out of the 13,440 GPs surveyed said their 2018/19 appraisal was 'useful' for improving patient care. 

This comes despite GP leaders, including RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard and Wessex LMCs chief executive Dr Nigel Watson, previously stating that GPs are 'fed up' with the bureaucracy involved with appraisal and revalidation.

GPs have also expressed concerns about appraisals and the use of their reflections since the Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba case, when it was suggested that the junior doctor's reflections had been used against her in court. 

According to NHS England's latest report, the 'much smaller' amount of negative feedback about appraisals was due to the amount of time spent preparing for them - with GP saying this would be better spent on learning or patient care. 

Key findings from NHS England's medical appraisal report: 

  • 91% of GPs said their appraisal was useful for promoting quality improvement in their work
  • 88% of GPs found their appraisal useful for improving patient care
  • 89% said their appraisal was useful for personal development
  • Between 89% and 92% report that their appraisal was useful for professional development
  • 97% said they were happy with the skills of their appraiser

The report said: 'This feedback provides good evidence that medical appraisal is valued by GPs in England, who report that it made a difference to personal and professional development and patient care.

'It supports anecdotal reports that appraisal supports many doctors with challenges in their professional life at a time of recognised pressure on the workforce and as the NHS embarks on the long-term plan.'

It added: 'Appraisal is therefore making an important contribution along with existing workforce projects and direct support mechanisms such as the GP Health Service. Negative comments mostly refer to the requirements of the process.

'The recent emphasis on minimising the paperwork and maximising the benefit must continue, so the mechanics are not a barrier to doctors gaining the full value of appraisal.'

Commenting on the findings, Dr Deen Mirza, a GP appraiser in London, said: 'While appraisal preparation can take a lot of time, GPs who are struggling with burnout or performance issues can benefit immensely from having a safe space to review their work. We do need to disseminate methods of streamlining appraisal documentation to make the process less laborious.'

Pulse previously revealed GPs spend on average 55 hours a year filling out revalidation paperwork – equivalent to 1,300 full-time GPs working eight sessions a week.

NHS England's acting director for primary care Dr Nikita Kanani told Pulse in February an appraisal and revalidation process was 'under way' to ensure GPs want to remain in the profession and are not put off by the 'complex' system.

Readers' comments (29)

  • i wonder how many said it was useful to be seen to be compliant?..... i wonder what they really thought? Many of my colleagues refer to 'putting on the show' at appraisal time...

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  • Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    Nonsense. Appraisal is useless and ridiculous. Every GP really knows that don’t they

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  • None of us are honest when we give feedback on our appraisal. We don't want to rock the boat, and we do not want to disparage our appraiser, who is probably a nice enough chap.

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  • It is always nice to speak to a supportive colleague unless it takes hours or days to put in "evidence" or if they report you to the GMC. They say it is useful partly out of fear of being reported to the GMC and partly out of pure politeness. We are grown ups, professionals and do not need any school teacher telling us how to better ourselves or take attendances and worse of all to help fund administrators to sanction us.

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  • Question: Has the appraisal made me a better doctor? I believe most GPs if they are truthful will say no.
    It is a real pain to have to waste time to record what you have read or learnt. Real pain.....I would rather have a beer while reading after a hard day instead of recording stuff for the pen pushers who do not see patients.

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  • Appraisals are a useless waste of time that help noone apart form those in the appraisal machine. I did not say this on my formal feedback because I dont trust NHSE or any of the large organisations supposedly there to support us.

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  • Appraisal/ Revalidation are my only reason to stop work at the end of this year.

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  • Often the appraiser is nice, but the appraisal process is pointless and laborious. I feel it offers no benefit for patient care and is a box ticking exercise

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  • I always thought that a much simpler idea than appraisal was to ask on reception when the next available appointment for a doctor was. You couldn't see me for weeks but one of my partners was always available the same day, it was just that no-one wanted to see him. I left four years ago at 50, fed up and burnt out, I sell stuff on the internet now and make more money, shame for my patients though.

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  • Why would anyone ever say anything else on the feedback?

    Just like the average patient feedback scores of 90-something percent!

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