What is SOAR?

Scottish Online Appraisal & Revalidation (SOAR) is the national IT system used by medics working in NHS Scotland for managing their appraisal processes. SOAR plays an integral role in Scottish government’s common pathway approach to medical appraisal and revalidation, and is developed and maintained by NES in collaboration with health board teams.

Supporting SOAR Users

2020/2021 was the first full year whereby all SOAR helpdesk queries were received and resolved using the NES corporate tool Jira, having moved from the external provider Zendesk in March 2020. Service standards have remained very high with all Service Level Agreements having been continuously met at the same time as delivering a significant annual cost savings.

This change in software however has presented a new challenge in reporting an accurate analysis of service demands and trends as methods of capturing information regarding service users and types of queries differ between the two software. It is therefore not possible, at this time, to provide an accurate number of SOAR helpdesk queries resolved for the year however, it is thought to be in the same region as last year’s resolved queries (6000+) with COVID-19 pressures and the temporary suspension of appraisal not significantly affecting demand.

Similarly, we are unable to give a detailed breakdown of where demand came from; be it Secondary Care users, Primary care users or trainees. To ensure that more detailed information can be captured in the coming year and reported with veracity in the next annual report, software settings and filters will be employed and capitalised upon going forward.

We will continue to support our users via the helpdesk, accessed either via the website directly or via email to SOAR@nes.scot.nhs.uk. Please also continue to send your suggestions to us; we might not be able to address all feedback, but they are all reviewed and considered at our planning meetings.

A graphic showing developers building an interface.

SOAR development

Minimal development work was undertaken on SOAR in 2020/2021. Most of the NES Digital teams were redeployed to work on various COVID apps and all development work were re-prioritised.

A small change was made to the Trainees’ self-declarations process on SOAR at the end of April 2020 so that Educational Supervisors (and Training Programme Directors) did not have to review and sign off the submitted forms on SOAR to help ease their workload (especially if they were redeployed).

This was reverted back in January 2021.

The only significant development work that took place on SOAR was a change in Recognition of Trainer (ROT) processes. New processes for continued recognition of trainer (ROT) was agreed at steering group level and the changes were deployed in February 2021.

The changes did not impact the trainers as they are still asked to complete the ROT form under Form 3 Domain 1 as part of their annual medical appraisal. The change only impacted DMEs (Directors of Medical Education) and EOs (Educational Organisations) where they now review a trainer's Form 7 after they have been revalidated.

Similar to medical revalidation, the ROT process happens in the background. If additional information is required, the DME or EO will make direct contact with the individual trainers concerned.

Continued Review of MSF Options

SOAR continues the provision of MSF via our 3rd party provider, WASP Software. This arrangement has been extended through to the end of March 2022, covering the 2021/2022 period.

The longer-term plan of an inhouse multi-disciplinary one-MSF tool is still a desired aim however discussions with NES Digital continue to be on hold at present due to COVID-19.

Future Projects

We are still looking to integrate the existing training course application process into SOAR, but priority will be given to the training courses development and any other urgent COVID-19 related work that may emerge.

Stacey Lucas

Administrative Officer (Medical Appraisal)