Exclusive: NHS England rules out making GP peer appraisals compulsory

NHS bosses have ruled out making GP peer appraisals compulsory and said that any person taking on the role would be 'fully trained'.

NHS England: 'It may be more appropriate that doctor’s appraiser is not another doctor.'
NHS England: 'It may be more appropriate that doctor’s appraiser is not another doctor.'

GP exclusively revealed this week that GPs could be forced to have their appraisals conducted by NHS managers or other clinicians after appraisers' fees were slashed.

The GPC has warned NHS England that slashing the fee GP appraisers receive to £500 could lead to GPs quitting the role because in some areas they were getting as much as £1,000 per appraisal. Already the GPC has heard reports of some area teams trialling non-peer appraisals for GPs.

NHS England said that its appraisal policy was still ‘being developed by a group of expert GPs’ but ruled out making GP peer appraisals compulsory.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: ‘The policy and supporting documents do not specify the professional requirements of the appraiser but articulate the skills and qualities needed to be successful in the role. Appraisers will not be allowed to appraise until they are fully trained to the nationally agreed standard. We expect that appraisers will, in the main, be licensed doctors.

‘The critical factor is that the appraiser, whatever his or her background, has been properly trained in medical appraisal for revalidation and that they attend national meetings and networks to ensure that their approach is calibrated with that of other medical appraisers. In some situations it may be more appropriate that the doctor’s appraiser is not another doctor, but has a relevant background and has undergone the nationally agreed training programme. An example of this may be those doctors who are fully engaged in senior management roles who do not practise clinically.’

GPC negotiator Dr Dean Marshall said there was a 'big risk' of GPs quitting being appraisers if they are taking a cut in fees.

Dr Marshall called for GPs to still have peer reviews. Where a GP has a specialism, it is acceptable once in the five year revalidation cycle to be appraised by a specialist, Dr Marshall said. An example of this would be for a GP to be appraised by a consultant gynaecologist if they specialise in gynaecology.

The NHS England spokeswoman added: ‘There has been continual consultation with a wide group of GPs during the development of the policy. This process has provided multiple opportunities for them to comment and commit to the policy content. Remuneration fees which have been extensively discussed by the group and there has been broad agreement from the group on the financial package. There is no evidence that large numbers of GPs are relinquishing this role. Indeed a number of GPs, who are not currently appraisers, have contacted us expressing interest in taking on a role in appraisal.’

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