COVID-19 has led to unprecedented changes in our professional and home lives alongside, in some cases, personal or family illness and separation from loved ones. We recognise the immense pressure on doctors as they try to manage the clinical challenges and organisational change alongside their own personal concerns and stresses. We have been overwhelmed by the response of general practice, which, by a combination of professionalism, adaptability and resilience, has ensured the continuation of a safe and quality service for our patients and local communities throughout the crisis.
You may remember that in March 2020 the GMC, supported by NHS England and Improvement (NHS E&I), suspended appraisal and revalidation to allow doctors to concentrate purely on the immediate clinical challenge. Medical appraisal will be restarting across Yorkshire and the Humber from 1st November 2020. If, however you have agreed a date for October with your appraiser and wish to go head, this will be supported by the team. All doctors with an October appraisal month do not need to have an appraisal. All appraisals will be set to ‘Approved missed’ due to Covid-19, which will be a neutral act. Appraisals for October 2020 doctors will take place in October 2021. Please be assured that no action is required from you with regards to your revalidation at this time.
The aim of this first appraisal following the pause will be to celebrate successes, provide support, and offer an opportunity for a confidential discussion to explore your own personal and professional experiences of COVID-19 and, of course, other professional challenges and aspirations which may have been impacted by the pandemic.
A ‘Medical Appraisal Guide 2020’ (MAG 2020) has been agreed by all relevant stakeholders including the RCGP, GMC, BMA and NHS E&I and provides a blueprint for the appraisals. The ‘must haves’ in the appraisal have been reduced to the minimum required by the GMC recognising that some colleagues may not have had the opportunity to gather their usual supporting information, and their planned personal development items are likely to have been superseded. Some written supporting information will be needed, but there will be more emphasis on a discussion during the appraisal which will be captured in the appraisal summary by your appraiser. If you have already collected your supporting information, then please include this as usual.
The modified appraisal format will continue for a full year and include all doctors – appraisals due from November 2020, the second half of this medical appraisal year, will take place in this new format, and those missed between April and October 2020 will now take place in 2021 in their same months.
The new requirements for supporting information are as follows:
- Scope of work: No change. Please describe your core roles and any significant changes since your last appraisal
- PDP review: There is no expectation for the PDP to have been addressed but you may discuss any elements which have been completed or might be carried forward. Written documentation is not essential.
- Continuing Professional Development and Quality Improvement Activity: There is no specific requirement for documenting credits. Only make a note on aspects which you particularly would like to discuss during the appraisal.
- Significant events and complaints since the last appraisal: Significant events reaching the GMC definition, ‘events which did or could have led to patient harm’, and any formal complaints, should be included as normal. A very brief description of the event followed by more detailed reflections on any resulting personal and team learning.
- Challenges, achievements and aspirations: This section may be particularly relevant in this appraisal remembering to celebrate achievements as well as considering the challenges. A few notes may help but are not essential.
- Personal and professional wellbeing: This is the focus of your appraisal depending on your personal needs and circumstances. How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted you? How have you maintained your health and wellbeing, what do you now need to do differently? Have you needed any support and has this been available? How are you feeling on a scale of 1-10? Again, a few notes may help and can be documented anywhere in your appraisal.
- Health statement and probity: Complete as usual.
- Feedback from colleagues and patients: Only make a note of anything you wish to discuss, remembering compliments! If you have a current 360 feedback, then your reflections should be documented as usual since this will be required as part of the revalidation process.
- Items you have been asked to bring to the appraisal: If this applies, then they should be included in written form.
- Pre-appraisal preparation: This is the section designed to show how you are meeting the requirements of Good Medical Practice. This can be left blank.
- Personal development planning: If you wish, your PDP can be presented as themes rather than specifics, allowing for the uncertainty moving forward. You may wish to consider the way Covid-19 has changed our practice. What is the best way to adopt and perhaps modify these changes in the future?
We hope these changes will support doctors to undertake their appraisal in their usual month but appreciate that doctors whose appraisals are due in October have been given little notice. If there are concerns, please discuss with your appraiser.
We anticipate that your previously allocated appraiser will undertake your appraisal. Please note we encourage the use of technology to avoid face-to-face meetings and all appraisers have been fully briefed to support you in this modified appraisal.
If you do have any questions about the restart of appraisal please contact the appraisal office at firstname.lastname@example.org