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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.