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Responsible officers ‘bully’ GPs on appraisals

Responsible officers in parts of the country are threatening to fail GPs on their appraisals and are ‘bullying' them into undergoing enhanced appraisals ahead of revalidation, the GPC has warned.

GPs have reported being pressured by officers into undergoing substantially larger appraisals that include being asked to go on extra training courses and provide a greater number of audits to their appraiser, say GPC leaders.

The GPC said they had also received ‘absolutely alarming' reports from GPs that officers were threatening to ‘fail' them on their appraisals, which they said ran contrary to the whole concept of what an appraisals should be.

It comes after the GPC recently warned that GPs across the country were already being asked to provide multisource feedback and patient surveys as part of their appraisals as PCTs look to bring in some revalidation requirements ahead of schedule.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘We met the GMC fairly recently and discussed this with them, and they said ‘no no, appraisal is appraisal'. Yet we're still getting quite a lot of reports around the country of people making appraisal bigger than it should be.'

‘Typically [they are being asked] to go on more courses or to provide a larger number of audits. The specific ones are child protection, infection control and basic life support. We're not saying you shouldn't do these things, but you don't need to do them as often as the responsible officers are saying.'

‘It looks like they are re-writing the rules, that's really not acceptable, and many GPs are frightened and are being bullied. I heard more than one example of a threat where you can "fail" appraisal, and if you fail appraisal you won't be revalidated.'

‘Anyone who knows the first thing about appraisal knows it isn't an exam and it doesn't have a pass rate.  Appraisal is meant to be light touch where you sit down and chat with your appraiser about what you've done in the last year and what you'd like to do in the next year.

Dr Buckman urged GPs that were being pressured into undergoing enhanced appraisal to contact them through their LMC.

He said: ‘Several people described appraisals they had in the last few weeks that sound absolutely alarming. My message to GPs [is], you do the appraisal you've always done, you do not do something else. There is not authority to impose this.'

‘We would like anybody who feels they have been bullied by an appraiser or a responsible officer to let us know through their LMC.'

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said: ‘I think this is a job creation scheme by certain people in the educational world.'

Watch Dr Buckman discuss appraisals further in an interview with Pulse