Thank You

2020 was an extraordinary year for many people. Many of you will have been redeployed to assist with the pandemic, even some of us at NES were redeployed to assist with various COVID related projects (some still are). I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive and personal thank you to all of you for the work that you do.

Your contributions and efforts are truly humbling, and we are grateful to you all – thank you.

NHS Thank you graphic.

Legacy of Change

Without doubt, 2020 was a year of change but as Dr Shrimpton highlighted in her overview, it was also a year for opportunities.

For many, the pandemic has changed everything overnight and nothing will be the same. For me, instead of relying on Lothian Buses to get me to work on time, I have a newfound reliance on a good internet connection (I suspect many of you have too).

Whilst some changes have been very disruptive, we have all shown our resilience and adapted to make it work to the best of our abilities. All of us, knowingly or indirectly, had upskilled ourselves in the use of IT and helped narrow the digital skills gap globally.

In the world of Medical Appraisal, I had received feedback on how much appraisal was valued this year, with many seeing appraisal as the supportive tool that it was designed and intended to be, which has led to more meaningful and reflective discussions.

This is a great learning opportunity at a unique and pivotal moment. Rather than focusing on how we go back to the way things were, this is an opportunity to reflect on our achievements and challenge ourselves to take this forward to improve on how things were.

For example, some neighbouring health boards are piloting joint peer appraiser group meetings (since all meetings are facilitated online now). For the smaller and more remote areas, there is no reason why this format of inclusiveness cannot continue.

For our revamped New Appraiser courses, one of the core elements is the requirement for learners to complete various modules (in PowerPoint format) prior to attending the remote two-half days. The modules have had overwhelmingly positive feedback from learners and tutors alike and this will be one of the elements of our training course we would take into the future. In fact, the use of learning modules will play a vital role in our Refresher Appraiser programme.

Refresher Appraiser Training

Following extensive consultation with various appraisal groups, we are planning for a number of Refresher “activities” rather than the traditional one-day Refresher training.

The activities being considered are:

  • Learning modules
  • Bite-size sessions
  • NES-run Refresher events
  • Webinars

We intend to develop learning modules (like the ones used in New Appraiser courses) for experienced appraisers. Topics like MSF/PSQ feedback facilitation, difficult appraisal discussions etc. Through this we aim to develop some sessions which can be delivered locally by the Appraisal Leads (or tutors in the health board) at local peer appraiser meetings.

NES will continue to run Refresher Appraiser training but rather than once every 5 years, attendance to the new half-day training is invited once every 3 years. In additional to this we will organise webinars on topical and current subject matters as and when needed.

Planning Ahead

The full 2021/2022 New Appraiser training schedule has been published and is available on the Medical Appraisal Scotland website. We are tentatively looking to pilot the new half-day Refresher Appraiser courses in February 2022 with a view to then finalising the new format and rolling it out in the 2022/2023 schedule thereafter. Already in place are plans to run two webinars on “Coaching skills for Appraisers” later in the year.

Plans are also in place to review our current approach to appraiser course tutor recruitment (turn over due to mix of retirement and redeployment).

The MARQA review for 2020/2021 has been postponed this year due to the varying approaches each board has taken to appraisal dependent on the impact of COVID in their respective areas.

For the foreseeable future our training activities will be delivered remotely. NES is currently undertaking a feasibility study on future plans for staff to return to the office. We will look to pilot a return to face-to-face training in the long run but for now, we will continue to play our part to ensure we do not contribute to the rise in infection rates in Scotland.

Road to Recovery

In my capacity as Training Manager I have been privileged to hear from the appraiser community on how appraisal has helped facilitate colleagues going through bereavement, their struggles with workload, the impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

At the recent Appraisers Conference, the session on “Appraisal in the New World” touches on how remote appraisal may work, but the session also shared resources that would help signpost colleagues to further support.

These resources have been collated as part of the conference section of our website, and they can be accessed through the below link:

Screenshot of conference.

Drs Krystyna Gruszecka (left) and Hilary Macpherson (right) roleplaying how remote appraisals may look and feel in a pre-recorded segment

Road to Recovery

If you have other resources that you feel would be beneficial to share, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are looking to revamp the website later on in the year and will look to set up a dedicated section for signposting these resources.

I am in no doubt that medical appraisal will be a tool for workforce recovery. I don’t want to sound like a slogan, but we are in this together. Let’s learn from the best of 2020 and make use of the tools that we have to build for a better tomorrow.

William Liu

Training Manager (Medical Appraisal)