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Practice managers doing appraisals? No thanks – I’ve got another solution

Oddly, I’ve spent this week contemplating becoming an appraiser. I say ‘oddly’, since, like most right-thinking people, I despise appraisal with a white-hot burning intensity which renders me so furious I can barely participate in the process. The majority of my time on the appraisal website is spent in repeated reluctant but pragmatic use of the delete key, without which I’d be approaching revalidation armed only with a mixture of CAPS LOCK profanity, fantasies of violent revenge against the inventor of white-space reflection, and the alphabet soup a keyboard serves up when recurrently assaulted by an enraged forehead. I’m not a fan.

They’ve actually managed to make appraisal worse

The sole saving grace of this demeaning ritual is the opportunity it provides to jointly stock-take the ever-mounting miseries of general practice with a fellow sufferer during the appraisal itself. This, at least, I enjoy; regular readers of this blog may have deduced that I’m not averse to a good whinge.

But now the impossible has happened: they’ve actually managed to make appraisal worse. With its motley crew of old-timers, part-timers, zealots and weary cynics, the appraiser faculty has always had a flavour of the 1945 Wehrmacht about it, and it turns out they’re having similar trouble getting bums on seats. The latest email from NHS England begging for fresh blood has a new twist; applications are now welcome from practice managers. Yeah.

Now please don’t get me wrong; my PM is worth her weight in gold, and as far as ‘ensuring doctors have annually ticked an arbitrary series of boxes’ goes she’s like Liam Neesom in Taken. But appraisal by practice manager is not a peer appraisal; they’ve removed the only bit worth a damn. I’ve tried whingeing at my PM and it’s not the same; she just smiles wearily and tells me to tidy my room before the CQC sees it. Clearly this is unsatisfactory.

And this is where I come in. As an increasingly desperate NHS England widen the job spec ever further (‘Ability to spell the word GP: desirable but not essential’), an obvious solution presents itself. Why not cut out the middle man and let me appraise myself? It’s a win-win; they get their boxes ticked, I finally get someone who really understands. Sure, I’ll hate the pointless charade as much as ever, but at least this way it’s only a colossal waste of one person’s time. Now, where do I sign up?

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him @PeteDeveson