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NHS England ‘strongly recommends’ suspension of GP appraisals

NHS England has said that it ’strongly recommends’ that appraisals are suspended in a letter sent to GP practices today on its response to coronavirus (Covid-19).

It comes as the GMC yesterday announced that it will defer revalidation for GPs to ‘free up vital time’ on the coronavirus ‘frontline’.

NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani and director for primary care strategy and NHS contracts Ed Waller said in the letter that this should ‘immediately’ increase workforce capacity.

They said: We strongly recommend that appraisals are suspended, unless there are exceptional circumstances agreed by both the appraisee and appraiser. This should immediately increase capacity in our workforce by allowing appraisers to return to clinical practice.’

They added that affected appraisals will be regarded as cancelled rather than postponed but that this has ‘no impact’ on GP’s ability to practice ‘as normal’.

The letter said: ‘Until reinstated, responsible officers should classify appraisals which are affected as ‘approved missed’ appraisals. For clarity, affected appraisals will be regarded as cancelled, not postponed.

‘In the meantime, for those doctors where appraisal has been cancelled and a recommendation is due, responsible officers are reminded that they may make a positive recommendation if the required supporting information has otherwise been presented earlier in the doctor’s revalidation cycle.

‘At the same time, if needed, doctors can be reassured that deferral is a neutral act and has no impact on their ability to practise as normal.’

Meanwhile, NHS England announced today that the introduction of the structured medication review (SMR) and medicines optimisation service specification will be postponed until October 2020 ‘in the first instance’.

NHS England will also make a ‘one-off adjustment’ for practices who earn less QOF payments this year as a result of coronavirus activities.