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NHS England set to ‘redesign’ GP appraisals

NHS England is working to ‘redesign the current process’ for GP appraisals, with the intention to ‘take a flexible approach’ to their reintroduction in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a system letter sent last night, NHS England said that whilst this work is underway, it will ‘continue to recommend that appraisals are suspended’ unless in the case of ‘exceptional circumstances’ which have been ‘agreed by both the appraisee and appraiser’.

It comes as Pulse revealed last year that NHS England would review the appraisals and revalidation process, to ensure GPs are not put off by the ‘complex’ system.

Although the update provided little detail on what the new system might look like, NHS England said it wants to ‘anchor the new approach around professional development and support, focusing on well-being as well as minimis[ing] the supporting information requirements’.

The letter said: ‘We do not plan to require doctors to use different documentation for their appraisal, many will have a lot information already recorded in various on-line platforms, though we would be keen to signal flexibility in what is required this year’.

The update, from NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikita Kanani and director of primary care strategy Ed Waller, further said the new process would ‘accommodate doctors who are prepared for appraisal, perhaps prior to their revalidation date, and want to press ahead’.

The news comes as the GMC has said that ‘a missed appraisal as a result of the pandemic should not prevent a recommendation being made about a doctor’s revalidation’.

Last month, the GMC announced an extension to GP revalidation dates eligible for deferral.

Previously, all revalidation dates scheduled from March until the end of September 2020 were deferred for a year to ‘free up vital time’ for GPs to respond to the virus.

It comes as earlier this week, the RCGP called for the annual appraisal system to be overhauled to minimise ‘pre-appraisal documentation and the administrative burden on GPs’ and become focused ‘on wellbeing, reflective practice and development’.

It comes as NHS England has now launched its review into GP bureaucracy, which was promised as part of this year’s contract negotiations.

The BMA and RCGP have both said pre-pandemic levels of GP bureaucracy must not be reintroduced.

Last night’s NHS England update, which set out the ‘second phase’ of the general practice response to the Covid-19 pandemic, also outlined plans for a major expansion of the flu scheme – which will form part of this year’s QOF – and said GPs should resume patient reviews and health checks including routine medication reviews from 1 July.


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