Inflexible appraisals threaten work abroad

GPs working abroad face months out of work on their return because appraisal rules are inflexible, according to a West Sussex GP working in Afghanistan.

Writing in this week’s BMJ Dr Alex Duncan calls on the CMO, Sir Liam Donaldson, to set up a regulatory body that could appraise doctors while they are working abroad.  

Dr Duncan, who runs a community health training programme in north east Afghanistan, was removed from   Horsham and Chanctonbury PCT’s performers list because he was unable to attend face-to-face appraisal. As a result he will be not be eligible to work as a locum when he returns. It takes up to two months to apply for reinstatement on the list.  

‘We need a body that regulates doctors like me. This body should ensure that doctors are fit to practise in the UK when they depart for work overseas and at any time when they return,’ Dr Duncan says.  

GPC member Dr Fay Wilson said: ‘The PCT is bound by regulations to take GPs off the performers list if they don’t undergo appraisal. My advice would be he should just come back and have the appraisal – it’s only once a year.’  

Dr Wilson said that Sir Liam’s proposals for a single, national performers list instead of multiple local lists could make it easier to find systems for appraising doctors in Dr Duncan’s position.  

She pointed out that finding a solution for appraising doctors who work abroad would probably be prohibitively expensive.  

‘Appraisal is a good thing – it would be highly desirable if GPs could have appraisal wherever they are,’ Dr Wilson said. 

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