Guidance to Doctors undertaking their first appraisal following the Covid 19 pandemic
Appraisal in Wales has always been a supportive peer review experience that has been well regarded by Appraisees on the whole (RCGP Further Support and the RSU Annual Review). In March 2020 Appraisals were suspended in Wales to ensure Doctors were not removed from the front line in the fight against Covid. The reintroduction of appraisal has caused some anxiety amongst colleagues with regard to the expectation of appraisers, the Revalidation Support Unit (RSU) and Responsible Officers (RO). This guide is intended to allay those anxieties and offer advice on how a folder may be prepared in order to facilitate a supportive discussion.
Amount of material needed
Though generally this varies between doctors, but might be anything between 10-20 entries commonly. As a rule of thumb as long as there is enough material available in your written folder to enable a valuable discussion to take place, your appraisal will go ahead. Your appraiser will not discuss 2 years’ worth of work if you have missed an appraisal due to Covid. Doctors have, over the last 9 months, undergone a significant amount of new learning and to record all of that would be unreasonable and unnecessary (as it has always been). You may choose to record only 3-4 reflective and impactful entries of what has seemed most important to you and that will be sufficient for your appraisal to go ahead.
Range of material
Appraisees tend to populate their folder across the range of Good Medical Practice headings. That isn’t always necessary as you may find your appraiser has reorganised elements into themes under different headings. Your “Covid experiences” will have given rise to development under all the elements of Good Medical Practice and you just need to decide what are the most important items for inclusion. You can access example entries by clicking on the following links. All doctors will have undertaken a lot of development, had numerous meetings, reorganised their practise, looked after their own safety and that of their teams. There may have also been significant events, practical changes in order to fit a new way of working, feedback from patients and colleagues on the new ways of working. There may have been challenges to get patients seen by colleagues. For some Doctors holding other roles there may also have been challenges specifically relating to these. Any or all of these examples would be useful to bring to an appraisal discussion.
It would be unusual for any doctor not to be able to collect those elements of essential information that the RO needs to scrutinise in order to allow revalidation to occur. Covid however may have interrupted these plans in the last appraisal year. There are likely to be numerous examples however of work during this period that has allowed doctors to review and evaluate the quality of their work and to identify where changes have been made and evaluated.
Doctors will still have to include all the essential supporting information, such as feedback, during the revalidation cycle, to be revalidated. For any concerns about completing revalidation during this period doctors should discuss this immediately with their RO.
All doctors have been through difficult experiences and it has been tough for appraisers and appraisees alike. The appraisal folder and the meeting are an opportunity to document concerns and discuss them freely with a peer. The folder may just contain wellbeing issues if that is important and it would be the role of the appraiser to support the appraisee and signpost to resources if needed.
The first appraisal following the pandemic is likely to be like no other that appraisees and appraisers have held together. The appraiser is a peer and will know where the appraisee is coming from in terms of what has been written and what may be said in the meeting. Guidance has been given to appraisers to ensure a consistent approach during this period and is likely to focus on what has between most important to appraisees in terms of achievements and challenges and how this fits into their plans going forward.