Countdown to appraisal

Forward planning makes appraisal and revalidation much easier, writes Dr Linda Miller.

GPs should be planning for revalidation and the annual appraisal. The cycle includes revalidation-ready appraisals and supporting information:

  • CPD
  • Quality improvement activity
  • Significant events
  • Feedback from colleagues
  • Feedback from patients
  • Complaints and compliments.1

Before making a recommendation to the GMC (revalidate, defer or non-engagement), the responsible officer will review any clinical governance information, such as serious complaints or investigations.

Once you have the date for your revalidation, start planning your multisource feedback (MSF) and patient survey questionnaire (PSQ). It is important to ask colleagues across the range of your practice.

Read the GMC advice on MSF/PSQ. The process must be rigorous. The PSQ should be distributed by receptionists and completed questionnaires collected and sent to an external body to be processed.

When colleagues have agreed to give you feedback, enter their email addresses on your MSF application and they will be emailed a questionnaire, which will be processed centrally. Check the website of your appraisal administration team to determine which questionnaires are recommended.

Reflection on your feedback should include noting the positives. Doctors can be self-critical and tend to focus on perceived criticisms.

When planning CPD, remember that supporting information needs to cover the scope of your practice, including any special interest (GPSI), academic, commissioning, teaching or voluntary roles. Consider, for each role, how you qualified for it, how you keep up to date and how you demonstrate that you are effective, using both feedback and outcomes.

CPD should not just cover personal interests. Local patient population needs, national guidance, practice needs, learning needs identified from personal practice and feedback should also be considered. Some GPs use online multiple choice questionnaires to help identify learning needs.

Yearly countdown to appraisal

One year to go

  • As soon as one appraisal is finished, start collecting supporting information for the next year's portfolio.
  • Familiarise yourself with the local electronic toolkit of preference. If available, attend a course on the toolkit and how to use it.
  • Collect patients' unmet needs (PUNs) and doctors' educational needs (DENs) as they arise, on a Word document or in the toolkit, as evidence for your self-directed learning and reflection.
  • Use structured reflective templates to formalise case reviews and reflect on significant events.

Months to go

  • As soon as you are allocated an appraiser, contact them to plan the date and venue. Allow up to three hours for your appraisal.
  • Arrange the time off work. Your study leave should include time for appraisal preparation.

Weeks to go

  • Submit your documentation at least two weeks ahead. Remove all confidential patient data, such as names on thank you cards.

On the day

  • Ensure you will not be interrupted during your appraisal.
  • Consider this a positive opportunity to reflect on the future.

Personal development plan

Your learning needs should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART). An effective SMART personal development plan should allow for activity to be spread throughout the year.

Identifying a few different ways to achieve each of your objectives allows for greater flexibility. Consider how you will demonstrate a change in your practice.

Quality improvement

Quality improvement can take some planning to complete a full cycle. For most GPs, a two-cycle audit will be expected. This should usually be prompted in recognition of an area where quality could improve.

For some, such as locums, personal rather than practice audit may be possible, but there are alternatives. See GMC guidance and 'Quality improvement activity as supporting information for appraisal'.2,3

Reflect on this article and add notes to your CPD Organiser on MIMS Learning

  • Dr Miller is a GP in London and GP tutor and coach/mentor for the London Deanery. Opinions expressed are her own.

These further action points may allow you to earn more credits by increasing the time spent and the impact achieved.

  • Start a reflective PUNs and DENs log to identify learning needs from your consulting over the next week and meet them in a variety of ways.
  • Complete the free module on the London Deanery Appraisal and Revalidation website, 'Getting the most out of your appraisal'. appraisal-and-revalidation-support/e-learning
  • Ask colleagues if they will complete your MSF for you and identify the tool you will use. Collect a list of their email addresses.


1. Revalidation Support Team.

2. GMC 2012. Supporting information for revalidation and appraisal.

3. London Deanery. Appraisal and Revalidation e-modules.

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