This site is intended for health professionals only

Appraise the lord

Appraise the lord! What brilliant news, and so unexpected. I’ve only just got back from holiday, so I’ve taken a while to catch up. But there it is: No More Learning Required.

That’s the official news on the appraisal front. The educationalists have finally accepted that we GPs know everything there is to know and so we can forget all about CPD because their work here is done. OK, maybe that’s not exactly what the headlines/stories about new slimmed-down, arms-length, light-touch appraisal say. But we know that’s what they mean and, as already explained, we know everything.

After all, that was the only way we GPs used to learn, wasn’t it? By appraisal. Because that meant that, instead of blundering around in the dark, scraping our ignorant knuckles on the ground and bumping into things because we had no educational map or discernible motivation, with PDPs and SEAs and educational portfolios et al, we suddenly had the tools for enlightenment.

And we were all forced to admit that, no, self-respect; genuine interest; medicolegal fear; ingrained professionalism; a sense of duty and a desire to provide quality care were as nothing compared to being compelled to write things down in a shiny folder.

After all, that was the only way we GPs used to learn, wasn’t it? By appraisal.

Never mind that it took hours, caused box-ticker’s tendonitis, and distracted us from the very activity it was meant to optimise. That’s how proper learning works, stupid.

But not any more. The implication is clear: we’ve learned everything there is to know. So no more appraisal as we know it, because there is no learning to provide evidence of. I never thought I’d see the day. My only anxiety is that, in future, I won’t be able to suppress my urge to look things up when I want to refresh, refine or consolidate my knowledge. If they find out, there might be reprisals.

In the meantime, though, I’m going to enjoy the liberation. And I look forward to the next person who says to me: ‘You doctors think you know it all, don’t you?’ Because yes, we do, actually.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Anonymous 16 September, 2020 3:44 pm

So, are our comments no longer anonymous?

Anonymous 16 September, 2020 3:45 pm

Ah. Apparently still so.

Anonymous 16 September, 2020 7:59 pm

NHSE need to bin appraisals to atone for THAT letter. Just saying…

Anonymous 18 September, 2020 11:52 am

Almost PMSL….

Douglas Salmon 21 September, 2020 4:16 pm

Too many RCGP and BMA snouts in the Appraiser trough to just drop the whole pointless nonsense then?

Mark Heneghan 23 September, 2020 10:34 am

The Shipman story is on BBC 2 next week. Watch for a U turn

John Graham Munro 27 September, 2020 11:07 pm