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Professor Stewart Irvine

Medical Director & Deputy Chief Executive, NES

As colleagues have highlighted in this report, 2020/21 was a year of challenge, of change and of opportunity. Everyone working in health and care continues to face difficult circumstances - over 18 months since the Covid-19 pandemic broke, and with the anticipation that vaccines really will change the landscape, the NHS is nevertheless operating under pressure on many fronts.

In these exceptional times, medical appraisal, with a renewed focus on individual wellbeing, and the opportunity it provides to reflect and to look forward has a key role to play.

Medical appraisal, appraiser training, and the revalidation which they support, were just some of many activities that were put ‘on-hold’ at the height of the pandemic, and which required to change and adapt to suit the new circumstances which we faced, as appraisals re-started in October of 2020. This annual report sets out just some of the hard work that has gone on to support these changes.

As with many areas of our work, this has included a major change in the delivery of our appraiser training courses from a face-to-face model to one supported by virtual and on-line elements – and the feedback received has been very positive. And in a similar way, the Scottish Medical Appraisers Conference ran as part of our virtual Scottish Medical Education Conference in May 2021.

Inevitably, none of this happens by accident, and I would want to record my very sincere thanks to William Liu, Christiane Shrimpton and Amjad Khan for their extraordinary efforts in undertaking the work set out in this report, and placing us in such a strong position to face the challenges of the year ahead. In a similar vein, thanks are due to the many colleagues who have contributed as appraisal tutors, without whom none of this would have been possible.

As we look to the future, there is much of the change set out in this report that we should hold on to. Appraisal is the only one-to-one confidential intervention that reaches every doctor and offers the opportunity to reflect on their experiences – the value of the process will continue to lie in the quality of the discussion.

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Overview of Medical Appraisal in Scotland

Doctor Christiane Shrimpton

Associate Postgraduate Dean for Appraisal and Revalidation

In the overview of the Annual Report 2019-20 I reflected on the opportunity the pandemic gave us to rethink what we had been doing and look at new approaches. As you will see from this report quite a bit has changed over the last twelve months.

When appraisals restarted in October 2020 much more emphasis was placed on discussing the wellbeing of the appraisee and exploring with them what impact Covid 19 has had on them and how they are accessing any support they need. There was less emphasis on the supporting information submitted prior to appraisals and more on the discussion itself. Many doctors have found their appraisal a valuable opportunity to talk through what has been going on for them over the previous year or so and life has changed in one way or another for everyone.

The review and refresh of appraiser training Amjad Khan, William Liu and I had been working on took up a significant part of our time last year. It became apparent very quickly that we needed to find a way of delivering training remotely in the near future until face to face training sessions are possible again. With all Health Boards in Scotland using Teams for many meetings, doctors were increasingly familiar with this.

We are now using this to deliver the group discussions and mini appraisals that help tutors assess if someone is ready to take up the role of an appraiser. In order to give all participants good background knowledge we also developed seven modules they are expected to work through before they attend the Teams sessions. These modules have had excellent feedback and many people felt they will also be useful for established appraisers to go through as a refresher. They are now freely available on the Medical Appraisal website.

The next step will be updating the refresher training. We have had input from appraisers, appraisal leads, appraisal tutors and the Revalidation Delivery Board Scotland into this and that will be a focus for the coming year. We have also updated the videos of appraisal scenarios so if you have not seen them yet that is something else for you to explore.

As always, the Appraisal Leads meetings have given us time to share what is going on across the country and offer ideas other Boards can take up to support their appraisers. And with everything having changed to remote delivery and the realisation that much can be done very effectively that way, we also embarked on the planning for a remotely delivered conference for 2021 after the need to cancel it in 2020. It has been a somewhat mixed experience and another great learning opportunity to reflect on. I am sure I am not the only one who sees options to keep some of this going in the future while also looking forward to going back to sessions where we meet up again in person. No more “you’re on mute” or technical hitches, and many of us miss the chats over coffee.

Once again, I want to thank everyone involved in appraisal and revalidation in Scotland for their support – we could not have achieved what we have without you all. As we slowly move towards a time where more and more people have been vaccinated, I look forward to meeting many of you again and continuing to make appraisal in Scotland even more helpful and valuable to the appraisee. We have an excellent basis to build on.