What could you achieve if you had three years to do it in? It seems a strange question to put to the time-paupers of primary care, whose working lives are desperately eked into inadequate ten-minute rations. Just imagine it though: three years!
Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the greatest minds our humble species has produced, took three years to knock out The Last Supper.
The proud workmen of Paris built La Tour Eiffel in two and a bit, no mean feat when you consider the amount of mandatory downtime for nicotine and expressive shrugging the erection must have necessitated.
But these achievements seem meagre indeed when you learn that the GMC has spent the last three years investigating whether appraisal does anything to benefit professional practice. And their findings at the end of this herculean academic undertaking? In a nutshell : ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Revalidation exists primarily to give the impression of doing something to protect the public
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Surely the GMC have got more important things on which to squander our fees, like private health screening for all their staff, or paying two sets of lawyers to argue against each other about precisely how maliciously a doctor who made mistakes should be crushed.
In fairness though, it’s a reasonable question to ask; asking it before rolling the whole pointless system out nationwide would have made more sense, obviously. But if appraisal doesn’t improve professional practice, what is it for?
Lots of doctors think revalidation was brought in to prevent the next Shipman, which doesn’t make much sense; if anything, being forced to fill endless white spaces with tokenistic drivel makes me feel more murdery, not less.
Unless the plan is simply to fill any spare time the would-be-perp had allocated for nefariousness with tedious appraisal-based admin, in which case well played GMC. ‘Change of plans, Primrose; I can’t do any home visits this evening because I have to scan all my CME certificates into PDF format and Clarity keeps crashing.’
It’s not, of course. Revalidation exists primarily to give the impression of doing something to protect the public, and secondarily to support the cottage industry of appraisers, responsible officers and people-who-write-three-year-studies-which-conclude-the-bleeding-obvious that its existence has spawned.
In truth, I feel sorry for the researchers. Imagine spending three years interviewing doctors about their attitude to appraisal, only to find that the crass behaviour of your own organisation has fundamentally changed those attitudes JUST AS YOUR STUDY COMES OUT.
Never mind eh; at least they’ll have something to talk about in their appraisals.
Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey