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Thanks, Jezza: how Mr Hunt has helped me with my appraisal

There’s less than two months until my appraisal and, as with the previous two, evidence is proving hard to pin down. 

It’s there all right – I’ve got hours of the stuff – but it’s scattered across virtual folders on email accounts and various files in the bookcase.  Yet again, I’ve failed to drop it all into a convenient one-stop CPD slot.

The memory of last year’s appraisal lingers.  I stepped out, PDP-agreed, into blazing sunshine.  I felt taller and bolder, as if a load had been lifted. It was like leaving confession.  Only four objectives in 12 months: what a breeze it seemed.  My fifth suggestion had been culled by Dr Greengrass – it just wasn’t SMART enough.  Shame, as it had pertained to logging evidence for appraisal. 

But it’s not been as easy as I’d hoped.  Upon review this afternoon, I have successfully achieved a paltry one of my four set goals, and I’m rapidly running out of time to tick-off the remaining three.  Item three’s definitely escaped me for this year, unless I can bash out an entire audit cycle in six weeks. 

GPs vary wildly in their approaches to the acquisition of CPD evidence.  Some have dedicated exercise books which accompany them to each learning activity like a loyal pup.  Reflections are made contemporaneously with number of credits stipulated and recorded.  It’s a solid and worthy method. 

Others appear less organised.  Within days of the deadline, these GPs can be identified by the beads of sweat and their frantic demeanour.  Wherever they go, they are attached to an enormous plastic box.  This sits on the hip like a naughty child.  It contains fifty weeks of documentation: BLS and lecture certificates, scribblings from clinical meeting, an SEA or two and the Update Course handbook. 

But whether you’re the type who chips away at your 50 hours diligently through the year, or the sort who burns the midnight oil and scoffs pro-plus as the big day cometh, we all get the purpose of appraisal: it’s not to make sure we’re perfect, but to ensure we’re safe. 

As I search through the paper mounds for that elusive BLS certificate with its 2 associated CPD credits, I’m already thinking through the theme for that audit (which – sorry, Dr Greengrass – will have to be carried over to next year). 

My subject has been inspired by recent rumblings in Government.  ‘The Huntster’ seems intent on flexing those weedy biceps to bash us all again, just minutes after opening his puny arms to our A&E colleagues for a mollifying and creepy cuddle. 

With this in mind, I plan to audit the number of local patients who, having been unable to access their own GP with URTI symptoms, then proceed to attend A&E. 

Following introduction of an improvement measure by the secretary of state (enforced exhaustion and mass resignation of GPs), I postulate the re-audit next year may show a 98% reduction in patients attempting to access the surgery in the first place, as the majority have been forced to close. 

It’ll be a sad state of affairs, but at least I’ll achieve my PDP.

Tom Gillham is a GP in Hertfordshire and Specialty Doctor in A&E. You can follow him @tjgillham.