PCTs can raise bar for GP appraisal beyond revalidation, says GMC

PCTs can demand 'multi-source feedback' annually as part of GP appraisal although it is only required once every five years for revalidation, the GMC has said.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson: PCTs can set appraisal demands locally
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson: PCTs can set appraisal demands locally

The comments came as the GMC confirmed it was ready to roll out revalidation from the end of this year.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said it was up to employers if they wished to demand multi-source feedback - questionnaires completed by patients and colleagues - more often than revalidation requires.

He said: ‘It’s not a requirement of revalidation. But that doesn’t prevent an employer from saying we want to do a bit more than that.’

The comments add to GP leaders' concerns over inconsistent approaches to appraisal by primary care organisations. At this year's LMCs conference in Liverpool, GPs accused the GMC of shirking its responsibility to set standards for appraisal nationally.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GP: ‘We have met with the GMC and others about our concerns about the inconsistent approaches to appraisal around the country.

‘There is no requirement for MSFs or patient questionnaires for annual appraisal. The GMC does expect these to be done once within the revalidation cycle and it will depend when a doctor is given their revalidation date as to when this will be required.’

The GMC's comments come after NHS South East London wrote to GPs to inform them they must provide colleague and patient feedback as part of their upcoming appraisal.

The letter said that ‘one colleague feedback exercise carried out in the last five years’ and one ‘patient feedback exercise carried out in the last five years’ would be ‘expected’ as part of GPs 2012/13 ‘revalidation appraisal’.

Colleague feedback, gathered through multi-source feedback (MSF) questionnaires and patient feedback questionnaires are required for revalidation. However GPs cannot expect to receive their revalidation date until December this year at the earliest.

GMC director of continued practice and revalidation Una Lane said it was perfectly acceptable for PCTs to start asking doctors to provide patient and colleague feedback as part of their appraisal.

She said: ‘It seems very sensible that employing organisations such as PCTs are doing everything they can to prepare themselves and to prepare and support their doctors.’

The GPC has said that such feedback should not be a requirement for annual appraisals.

A spokesman for NHS South East London said: ‘The information sheet was provided to doctors in south east London in response to their request for guidance to help them prepare for their revalidation appraisals. On reflection it would probably have been better to include the words ‘suggested’  or 'as recommended by the GMC' in their recently published documentation.

‘Appraisal for revalidation will be based on the appraiser taking an overview of a doctor's evidence and will not be based on a pass or fail in any individual area, including colleague and patient feedback.’

Doctors will begin to receive the date for when they can expect to be revalidated from December, the GMC has confirmed most doctors who receive their date this year will be responsible officers who oversee revalidation locally. Other GMC registered doctors can expect to receive a date between January and March 2013.

It is expected that doctors will receive their date at least six months ahead of being revalidated. Mr Dickson said he expected revalidation to become 'real' for doctors once they receive their date.

‘At that moment my prediction is the penny will drop and people will think "this is really going to happen".’

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