In a letter setting out the second-phase general practice response to the pandemic, which unveils a sweeping package of updates to the GP contract on QOF, enhanced services, primary care networks and more, NHS England said reshaping the appraisal process in the context of the pandemic was 'a priority area for action'.
NHS officials confirmed work is underway with 'partner organisations' to redesign the current appraisal process, explaining that the process will shift to a more supportive approach with reduced adminstrative requirements.
The letter confirms: 'We want to anchor the new approach around professional development and support, focusing on well-being as well as minimise the supporting information requirements.'
Appraisals remain suspended, and the GMC has said that submission dates for doctors due to revalidate between 17 March 2020 and 16 March 2021 have been pushed back by a year.
NHS England said it would take a 'flexible approach to its re-introduction', with doctors already prepared to undergo appraisal who 'want to press ahead' potentially allowed to do so early, 'perhaps prior to their revalidation date'.
Changes to the process will not require doctors to shift information already collected to new documentation, the letter says.
'Many will have a lot of information already recorded in various online platforms, though we would be keen to signal flexibility in what is required this year,' officials said.
Proposals to revamp appraisal come just days after the RCGP urged the government to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a chance to re-think appraisal and revalidation as part of a wider shift to reduce red tape for primary care.