Appraisal and revalidation in the time of Covid 19: the April 2021 appraisal restart
Our usual service was stopped in March 2020 and in December 2020 but the service can restart in April 2021. We are still experiencing a heavy workload due to COVID-19 and so appraisals will on a flexible basis from 1 April 2021, with a view to recommencing fully from the 1 July 2021.
RMS has continued to send notifications to appraisees, so those doctors due in the coming weeks will have received an email advising them of their upcoming appraisal. Those GPs who feel they cannot have an appraisal before July 2021 will be allowed to have an approved missed appraisal or have a postponement until later in the year.
The service will be restarted in the new ‘Appraisal 2020’ format. The aim is for GPs to do minimal preparation and to focus the appraisal meeting on GPs’ well-being and development.
GPs who are unwell or who have other well-founded reasons will have “approved missed” appraisals. Those feeling stressed are encouraged to contact the appraisals office so that they can then be signposted to help. Please also be assured that GP appraisers have the skills to listen and signpost to local and national services, and will have received training on the ‘Appraisal 2020’ format. We are asking GPs to fill in a postponement form (one can be found on our website, link below) if you need to postpone your appraisal. Your request will be considered sympathetically and sensitively.
In Thames Valley we have access to the free confidential GP mentoring service, and the access to a Locum Chambers in association with NASGP. There is also a Fellowship Programme for newly qualified GPs to have a structured induction to Practice, PCN and System in our region, as well as regular one to one contact with local mentors, backfilled CPD and peer support.
Appraisal 2020 – some useful information
The new resources and FAQs are posted on the AoRMC website.
Clarity and Fourteen Fish already incorporate the new Appraisal 2020 template which greatly facilitates preparation for appraisal. It reduces overall preparation time, in pilot studies on average to about 30 minutes. If using the MAG, the Appraisal 2020 template can still be used and simply uploaded.
There are no plans for those who missed their appraisal in the past year. The good news is that the new simplified and supportive appraisal will also run for the first six months of the new appraisal year, from April 2021, at least until the end of September 2021; it may stay in that model, but we don’t know yet.
Remote appraisals will be the norm until further notice
Due to social distancing guidelines it is strongly advised that all appraisal meetings will be virtual, using a mutually agreed format which assures confidentiality. The method used should ensure that the GP and the appraiser can see each other, but any method can be used.
Most queries about appraisal should be directed to your appraiser in the first instance, although the Appraisal Team will be on hand to help you with postponement requests and referral to advice on signposting for those who are suffering from stress. Contact details are as follows:
The Appraisals Team
The Revalidation Team
As you will be already aware, on 17 March 2020, the GMC announced that it was going to change the revalidation dates of all doctors with a revalidation recommendation due before the end of September 2020. The effect has been to re-set the date for 12 months’ time.
Further to this, recent communication from the GMC confirms the decision has been taken to continue with the pause in revalidation for those GPs due to revalidate from 01 October 2020 to 16 March 2021, also for a further year.
The GPs who have had their revalidations pushed back due to Covid19 will be given an ‘open notice period’. This means that NHS England & NHS Improvement teams can continue to process revalidation for these GPs ahead of their new date if they are ‘revalidation ready’.
In practice, the NHS England & NHS Improvement Appraisal & Revalidation team will be reviewing the records of GPs whose revalidation date has been pushed back, to ascertain whether the supporting information gathered from appraisals provides the required detail to enable a positive early recommendation by your Responsible Officer.
Appraisal, revalidation and associated activities (compiling your portfolio, recording CPD and quality improvement, formal feedback) were suspended in March 2020, initially until end September 2020. This was to allow doctors, appraisers and the associated administrative teams to focus on clinical work and use their skills in the best way to support the Coronavirus emergency. No doctor’s licence to practise will be affected by this.
This period of revalidation suspension has been extended until 16 March 2021.
GPs’ revalidation dates between 17 March 2020 and 16 March 2021 will be ‘reset’ for an additional year, but will be given an ‘open notice period’.
GPs on ‘open notice’ who are already ‘revalidation ready’ will continue to be processed by the Appraisal and Revalidation Team.
Professional Standards Team Complaints Process
The South East Professional Standards Team strives to manage cases fairly, sensitively and transparently whilst protecting patient safety and supporting practitioners. When we do not get something quite right, we look to learn from our mistakes, share the learning and change systems and processes where necessary.
If a practitioner has a concern regarding the handling of their case by the Professional Standards Team, the following processes should be followed:
- Contact the relevant Head of Professional Standards, outlining your concern. For Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Thames Valley please contact Jeniene Scott – firstname.lastname@example.org. For Kent, Surrey and Sussex please contact Karen Crossland – email@example.com.
- The Head of Professional Standards will review the concerns and provide a response to the practitioner within 4 weeks.
- If the practitioner remains dissatisfied with the response, they should contact the appropriate Medical Director/Responsible Officer. For Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Thames Valley, please contact Dr Shahed Ahmad – firstname.lastname@example.org. For Kent & Medway, Surrey and Sussex, please contact Dr Alison Taylor – email@example.com. The complaint and the initial response will be reviewed and the outcome of the review will be shared with the practitioner within 4 weeks.
All learning identified will be shared at Professional Standards Team meetings and any necessary changes to systems and processes implemented. Where appropriate, learning will also be shared with regional Heads of Professional Standards and Medical Directors/Responsible Officers and the national Professional Standards team. An annual review of all the learning and adopted changes will be undertaken and a report shared with the appropriate stakeholders
Frequently Asked Questions
You will be notified by automated email as soon as possible before your appraisal month who your appraiser is, with their contact details. At this point you will need to log into your toolkit and match yourself to your allocated appraiser.
NHS England does not administer the CLARITY toolkit (any dates/appraisers are not put on there by the team). Any queries relating to CLARITY must be directed to their helpdesk and not to the Appraisals Team. Please either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 113 7111
RMS – Sign off of appraisal
Please sign off as soon as possible after your appraisal date, you will be reminded to complete the process by automated emails from the appraisal system. Appraisers – Please note you must upload the completed Appraisal from any of the toolkits and complete the appraisal output summary.
Primary Care Support England
You may have started to work in a new area of the country recently. In order to make any changes to your status on the performers list, to ensure that you are assigned to the correct designated body for appraisal and revalidation purposes, you should inform PCSE.
The new online service replaces the form paper-based NPL1, NPL2 and NPL3 forms, offering new applicants and existing performers an easy to use process to join the performers list, notify PCSE of any change in circumstances and keep their information up to date. It would also be very useful if you could let the appraisals team know of any changes as well.
Notice regarding feedback surveys for appraisal and revalidation
There is no pressure for you to have surveyed patients or colleagues during the pandemic. If you are due to be revalidated and need the surveys in order to be revalidation ready, then your RO will recommend a deferral of your revalidation to the GMC, to allow time for these to be completed in the following year. This will be viewed as a neutral act which will not have a detrimental effect on your good standing with the GMC or as a GP. When you do start the process, email patient surveys are preferred during the pandemic. The patients selected should be identified by an independent third party, and the results collated and analysed independently as well.
The RO and Appraisal Leads are aware that GPs have different work environments and if a GP would find gathering data a problem, please be in touch with your allocated appraiser well before the appraisal meeting, for advice.
The rationale behind all this is GMC guidance:
“Those asked to give you feedback must be chosen from across your whole scope of practice. You should use standard questionnaires that have been validated and are independently administered to maintain objectivity and anonymity. You must agree any alternative approaches with your responsible officer. You should not personally select those asked to give feedback about you, and you should make sure the method used for collecting feedback allows responses to be obtained from a representative sample.”
Visit the RCGP website to read about all the supporting information for appraisal.
Responsible Officer and Appraiser Network
Responsible Officer and Appraiser Network Information Sheets. They cover a broad range of topics, from logistics to support consistency between designated bodies, clarification/promotion of existing guidance, to suggestions and resources for appraisers to offer doctors who they are appraising.
General Appraisal and Revalidation information
NHS England Guide to Revalidation
- Introduction to revalidation, plus regional contacts and informatio
- Information on revalidation, aimed at doctors
- An overview of the medical appraisal process, including information and resources to help medical appraisers carry out their roles effectively and consistently.
- Medical appraisal guide (MAG) model appraisal form
- Information on revalidation for patients and the public
- NHS England Medical Appraisal Policy and annexes
- RCGP guide to supporting information for GP appraisal and revalidation
- BMA Guide to medical appraisal
- The Good medical practice framework for appraisal and revalidation
- RMS User Guide for appraisers and appraisal leads
- Appraiser claim form 2018/19)
- Mileage claim form
- Supporting doctors who undertake a low volume of NHS General Practice clinical work form
- Structured reference for appraisal/revalidation for GPs in other roles
- Form to request the postponement of an appraisal
- Form for appealing against the allocation of a specific appraiser.
- NHS Practitioner Health service and 0300 0303 300, for doctors in England (including trainees and retired) with:common and more complex mental health conditions;
- mental health conditions relating to a physical health issue;
- substance misuse including support for community detoxification;
- rehabilitation and support to return to work after a period of mental ill-health
The service is non-acute, but they have a 24/7 crisis line – text ‘NHSPH’ to 852
BMA Wellbeing service (Tel: 0330 123 1245) offers six free counselling sessions with trained therapists and a number of other resources
Our NHS People online support for all NHS staff. This is provided by NHS England and NHS Improvement in partnership with the Samaritans, through a helpline and text service, offering support and resources including coaching, bereavement care, mental health and welfare support.
Text ‘frontline’ to 85258 any time or ring 0300 131 7000 from 7am to 11pm.
Members of Medical Protection society can access six free sessions of counselling by the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS). ICAS offers telephone counselling and face-to-face counselling sessions. Call ICAS on 0808 189 4385 and quote your MPS membership number to book.