Over an impromptu pint on the eve of the RCGP conference earlier this month, my Pulse paymaster Nigel Praities expressed his surprise at finding me there. Not in the pub, which is clearly the only vantage point from which a sane person would contemplate three consecutive days of medical education, but at the conference itself; it seemed incongruous to the Editor of The Year that someone so frequently critical of the actions of the college should remain a fee-paying member and voluntarily attend its educational events.
So, I explained my genuine belief that GPs need a Royal College to big up our specialty if we plan to be taken seriously by some of our snootier chums in secondary care; and that once you’ve decided that such an institution is necessary, it’s impolite to rely on the mandatory contributions of trainees for its upkeep.
Furthermore, I continued, warming to my theme like one of the boring old dudes in the bits of Gladiator everyone fast forwards, not only is it possible to simultaneously have an idealistic dream of what the RCGP should aspire to and yet decry its current iteration, but for me the second is an inevitable outcome of the first, and the moral duty of any upstanding GP. (Also, my practice pays my membership and conference fees, and you’ve gotta make up your fifty hours somewhere.)
By now my dashing interlocutor’s eyes were starting to glaze over, and I suspect yours may be too, so let me explain why I chose to recount my harangue here. My December appraisal is now looming ominously in the middle distance, like a late afternoon pre-booked heartsink double appointment that ruins your lunch in its anticipation; and just like that particular delight, it’ll be an interminable pointless chat with no significant outcome except being sentenced to undergo the whole sorry rigmarole again, like Sisyphus recurrently rolling an enormous faecolith. At the risk of repeating myself, I don’t like appraisal.
But here’s the thing. The RCGP is running its annual Appraisal and Revalidation Survey, and crucially, you don’t have to be a member to take part. This is our collective chance to change the RCGP for the better. What you need to do is click on this link, and then cut and paste the phrase ‘Appraisal and revalidation are a pointless waste of GPs’ time’ into the many white space boxes you’ll find there. Not only will you find this an intensely therapeutic experience, but if enough of us do it, they might actually get the message.
Failing that, we’ll always have the pub.
Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson