Letter: We should get rid of costly face-to-face appraisals

As a GP appraiser since the process began, I am now bored with doing appraisals. The same three things always come up: still waiting for clarification, too little time, and no evidence base for appraisal or recertification.

And the CPD folders I see vary from very good to excellent. Meanwhile, the educational philosophers and medical politicians are still wrangling over the finer points. This has been going on for 10 years now, more than long enough.

I feel guilty about taking a £500 appraisal fee for a two-hour chat with a peer about their CPD folder. There is usually almost nothing to say since they are experienced professionals and produce good folders.

Paying £500 per appraisal really is a waste of money.

Now that GP appraisal is so well set up, why not simply require each GP to complete a form, not unlike a tax return, summarising their CPD/CME folder, and send it off once a year to be briefly perused by an educator?

We could then sack all the appraisers, me included, and free up £20 million a year to provide actual education, starting with an authoritative website packed with resources and telling doctors exactly what is required of them.

The only way that appraisal could catch a 'bad' doctor would be if they were drunk or obviously insane, and someone might have noticed this earlier.

Performance indicators, anonymous reporting and triangulation with a firm but fair investigatory system are the way to reassure the public on the 'bad doctor' issue.

Let's keep learning folders and CPD, but drop face-to-face annual appraisal, unless of course they have some evidence to prove it works.

Appraisal was begotten of a knee-jerk political reaction to the RCGP's desire to impose its educationalist agenda on colleagues.

The benefits have come from levelling up educational and development activity, this improvement, having now been achieved, could be maintained more cheaply and the money spent actually teaching us to be better doctors.

Dr Stephen Hayes, GP appraiser and GP with a special interest in dermatology, Woolston, Southampton

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