GPs face charge to use appraisal toolkit

GPs could be forced to pay for access to the NHS Appraisal Toolkit website after the DoH withdrew funding.

The department will not renew its contract with the site’s supplier when it expires on 31 October, meaning GPs will have to apply to PCTs for funding or pay themselves to maintain access.

However, PCTs said  they will not pay the new subscription fee, which is expected to cost up to £100 per GP each year.

A spokeswoman for NHS Birmingham East and North said: ‘Given the current financial pressures upon PCTs it is unlikely that the trust will purchase access to the toolkit for all GPs.’

North Yorkshire LMC member and GP Dr Shaun O’Connell said: ‘It’s a nuisance that the news has come partway through an appraisal year. It’s not a long process to download previous information but it’s inconvenient.’

Earlier this year the DoH suspended access to the toolkit after it emerged the site was vulnerable to hackers. The department said its decision to cease funding was not related to security fears.

After the contract ends, GPs who do not subscribe will have their information deleted within one year. GPs should be able to download saved data within this time even if they do not subscribe.

However, GPs will have to remove all data manually as it cannot be transferred to another system unless they pay for continued access.

The department said: ‘In line with the new White Paper, Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS, DoH policy is that arrangements for appraisals should be made locally within the NHS.’

The DoH said it wanted to ensure health professionals could access products that have the capabilities they need and that they are fit for future developments, such as revalidation.

‘It would therefore not be appropriate for the department to continue to hold a contract with one provider or to fund one particular system centrally.’

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