GPs forced to pay for appraisal toolkit

Two thirds of PCTs have refused to pay for the former NHS appraisal toolkit, forcing GPs to pay for access or abandon it, a move described as 'unfair' by the GPC.

Dr Nagpaul: 'It's not just an issue of cost, it's the practical ordeal of re-entering the data into a different format'
Dr Nagpaul: 'It's not just an issue of cost, it's the practical ordeal of re-entering the data into a different format'

A GP investigation has found just 37 per cent of 113 PCTs chose to continue funding the toolkit, which some PCTs had previously made compulsory. Trusts said the toolkit was 'unaffordable' in light of challenging efficiency targets.

The DoH withdrew central funding for the toolkit in October after it said it was not 'right' to hold a contract with a single provider or system. Unless PCTs stepped in to foot the bill, GPs faced having to pay £50 plus VAT per year to continue using the system.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the sum was a tiny part of PCTs' overall budget and it was unfair for GPs to incur financial costs for a bureaucratic process.

'A GPs' history of appraisal data is on the toolkit. It's not just an issue of cost, it's the practical ordeal of re-entering the data into a different format,' he said.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show each PCT that refused to pay for access has saved tens of thousands of pounds.

NHS West Essex said: 'The toolkit providers wanted £50 per GP and £10,000 per PCT. In these financially constrained times it was not thought to be value for money.'

GP understands that NHS Harrow, north-west London, initially decided not to fund the toolkit but reversed its decision after pressure from GPs through Harrow LMC.

NHS Barking and Dagenham in east London said the toolkit had increased quality of appraisals. A PCT statement said: 'As we had universal coverage, we did not wish to cause difficulties to local general practice by moving to a new system.'

Others, such as NHS South Birmingham, said appraisal was considered 'an individual professional responsibility' and had reverted to a paper system.

Many trusts said the lack of a GMC decision about which toolkit would be used for revalidation meant they would not fund continued access.

NHS Sandwell, West Midlands, refused to fund GP access 'as the PCT will not be around in 2012/13 and funding decision will be down to GP consortia'.

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