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GPs barred from using RCGP toolkit for revalidation

Exclusive GPs in some areas may have to redo work they have already completed for the revalidation process after area teams barred them from using the RCGP’s toolkit, Pulse has learnt.

Local area teams in London have informed GPs that they must submit appraisals through the Clarity toolkit from April 2015, despite claims made by the GPC that NHS England had promised GPs can use whichever programme they so wished.  

The RCGP and the GPC warned that GPs will already have some data stored on their RCGP programmes and that this will lead to further administrative hassle for GPs.  

Londonwide LMCs is in discussion to get the policy reversed, but the GPC has said there are other area teams that are taking the same approach around toolkits, which are used to input GPs’ data collected for the purposes of revalidation.

This latest development will exacerbate GP concerns that they are spending too long on the revalidation process, following comments made by a GPC negotiator last year that it was taking him 40 hours to prepare, while an official report by the NHS Revalidation Support Team said it was a ‘bigger burden’ than expected.

The letter from South London’s responsible officer Dr Jane Fryer states: ‘The South London area team have decided to align with our North London colleagues and from next appraisal year (2015-2016) we shall only accept appraisals submitted on the Clarity toolkit.’

‘This might be a disappointment for doctors who currently use the RCGP toolkit so we felt it was important to give you some forewarning.’

GPC negotiator Dr Dean Marshall said that he had heard of other areas doing this, adding that this move was ‘outrageous’.

‘Are they suggesting that if a GP uses the College toolkit and has appropriate information that fulfils all the criteria of appraisal, they are not going to recommend that GP for revalidation? I think that’s outrageous and I think the GMC would be very interested in that.’

‘This has been an issue for a while with London particularly and some other areas are doing the same thing. The situation is not just a London issue.’

The policy was in contradiction to promises made by NHS England, he said.

He said: ‘We’ve had conversations with [NHS England deputy medical director Dr] Mike Bewick in the past about this and there is an agreement with NHS England that GPs are not constrained to using a particular toolkit, as long as the information is provided in a manner that can be dealt with by the appraiser – and clearly the RCGP toolkit would fit that.’

Dr Marshall warned that this would create more workload for GPs.

He said: ‘There may be loss of data when switching over and it’s an extra administrative hassle.’

‘Arguing about an administrative tool is missing the whole point and potentially causing extra administrative burdens to GPs at a time when we’re struggling to cope.’

The RCGP’s lead for revalidation Professor Nigel Sparrow said GPs may prefer to use their own toolkit for ‘wide variety of reasons’ including their IT preferences.

Professor Sparrow said: ‘GPs will have different preferences regarding the electronic resource that they use for a number of reasons, such as differing learning styles and IT preferences. Many GPs will already have information stored on a particular resource and have become used to using it.’

He added: ‘We believe that GPs should be free to decide which resource is the most appropriate for them, as long as the resource used facilitates the strong, submission and receipt of the information as required by the GMC.’

Dr Theodora Kalentzi, Londonwide LMCs medical secretary, said the LMC was in discussions to get the policy reversed.

In a circular to London GPs, Dr Kalentzi said: ‘I would like to reassure you that we share your concerns and grief on this decision and we have already raised them with Jane Fryer, who is currently in discussion with us.

‘Our position is that the decision should be reversed to the current status and any future changes to the appraisal process to be made in consultation with the profession.’

A spokesperson from NHS England said: ‘We understand the desire of doctors to choose which appraisal system is the most appropriate for them. However, this needs to be balanced with the practical impact on medical appraisers and responsible officers in having to use multiple systems.

‘Whilst we support responsible officers in seeking to move to a specific system or a limited number of systems, this should be achieved through discussion and agreement with doctors locally.’

NHS England London was unable to comment by the time of publication. However, in a subsequent statement, a spokesperson said: ‘Moving to one toolkit will standardise the revalidation process across the three Area Teams in London. Clarity is already used by 76% of GPs in South London, 100% of GPs in North East London and 97% of GPs in North West London.

‘NHS England (London) is currently reviewing comments from GPs who use the RCGP toolkit and will respond to the concerns that have been expressed as soon as possible. We will also hold group and one to one meetings to support those doctors most affected.’

The GMC declined to comment.

Last month, the chief inspector of primary care said he had ‘no confidence at all’ in the process.

This story was amended Tuesday 10 June to acknowledge NHS England London’s response.