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FAQs for Medical Appraisal

FAQs for Medical Appraisal

A range of Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Appraisal.

1. What is Appraisal?

The Medical Appraisal scheme for doctors working in Scotland ensures that all doctors participate in a system where they reflect on and consider their current and future professional practice and, from this, identify objectives and educational activities which will enhance their professional and personal development. It provides the opportunity to identify and share any concerns at an early stage.

Appraisal provides an opportunity for you to speak with another doctor who has been trained in appraisal skills. You will be able to discuss your achievements, identify some of your development needs and form your own personal development plan. It is a continual process and part of a learning culture.

Appraisal also offers doctors a safe space to discuss confidentially with a trained peer on any sensitive issues that they are struggling with, be it health and wellbeing, workload or any other struggles.

Participation in appraisal should be a positive and supportive process.

2. Who is it for?

Medical Appraisal is for ALL doctors and plays an important role in their ability to revalidate.

For doctors in training, this may take the form of a review as part of their ongoing educational supervision and assessment as trainees.

3. Is it compulsory?

Annual appraisal is a contractual obligation for ALL doctors employed by, or contracted with, the NHS Board.  ALL doctors are required to have an annual appraisal if they hold and wish to retain a Licence to Practise.  Non-participation will be referred to the Health Board's Medical Director

For GPs, participation in annual appraisal is part of the GMS contract; non-participation may affect inclusion on the Performers List.  A GP must maintain their status on the current Performers List to provide a clinical service in General Practice, regardless of being a salaried, sessional or out of hours doctor.

Failure to participate will impact the Responsible Officer's ability to recommend the doctor for revalidation.

4. How is it managed?

Medical Appraisal in Scotland is managed at Board level by Medical Directors and Appraisal Leads, supported centrally by the Medical Appraisal Scotland team at NES.

In each Health Board, Appraisal Leads in primary and secondary care oversee the appraisal process and are supported by separate Local Administration teams.

5. Who does the appraisals?

Appraisals are carried out by doctors who have been trained to undertake the appraiser role.

It has been agreed at national stakeholder groups level that all appraisers in Scotland will be trained by NES, to ensure that all doctors are appraised by colleagues trained to a uniform standard and high quality.

6. How do I arrange my appraisal?

Appraisals are arranged locally with your appraiser directly or via local administrative team.

If they have not contacted you before it is time for your appraisal, take the initiative and make contact with them for further assistance.

7. Where will my appraisal interview be held?

The appraisal meeting should be held at a mutually pre-agreed location, whether in-person or remotely via online tools.

For all interviews, it is important that you have somewhere to meet where you can be sure of privacy and no interruptions for the duration of the meeting. It can be helpful to have access to a computer to finalise the forms at the end of the meeting.

8. How long will my appraisal take?

The interview is likely to last between 2 and 3 hours.

Your appraiser should agree an agenda with you, between receiving your appraisal documentation and the agreed appraisal date.

You should allow at least one hour (or two) for essential matters; after that it can take as long as you want. It is your appraisal - your opportunity to discuss your achievements, concerns, hopes and aspirations. Do not hold back if there are things that you want to discuss with your appraiser.

9. Will I have a choice of appraiser for my appraisal?

You will NOT be allowed to choose your own appraiser.

Appraiser/Appraisee allocation is organised locally by the local admin teams, guided and supported by the Appraisal Lead.

If for whatever reason you do not wish to be appraised by the assigned appraiser (e.g. you used to work together, socialise outside of work, are neighbours, in a relationship etc), you can ask to be allocated to another appraiser.

The appraisee is entitled to request one alternative choice of appraiser. If the appraisee has legitimate reason not to accept the second appraiser then the Appraisal Lead will appoint another trained appraiser - and that decision will be final.

For the purposes of revalidation, you should have at least two different appraisers during each five year revalidation cycle.

10. Should I be worried about my appraisal?

Not at all.

Appraisal provides an opportunity for a doctor to reflect on their professional work life through a structured dialogue with a colleague who has been trained to undertake this kind of interview. Doctors will be able to discuss achievements, identify learning and development needs and form their own personal development plans.

As appraisal focuses on the whole of a doctor's current practice, there shouldn't be anything additional that the doctor needs to prepare for.

11. What do you mean when you say that appraisal is formative?

Formative is an educational term. A formative assessment is intended to give appraisees feedback on their learning and to give the appraisers an indication of where appraisees have done well, and areas of challenge.

Appraisal is a formative process of review - a developmental approach to performance, non-judgemental but challenging, which helps to inform and shape the educational process.

A summative assessment is a test of how you measure up to set standards in a binary pass/fail setting - which appraisal is not.  Formative appraisal is a learning process.

12. What about confidentiality?

Please read our statement on confidentiality.

13. I work in both primary and secondary care, do I need to be appraised twice?

No. You should only have one annual appraisal.

Seek advice from both the primary and secondary care Appraisal Leads in your employing health board in the first instance.

Typically though, if you are on the primary care Performers List then the appraisal would take place there and a copy of the Form 4 is provided to secondary care for proof of appraisal.  But check with the Appraisal Leads first.

Regardless where the appraisal takes place, remember it is a whole-practice appraisal so make sure to cover the entirety of your work during your appraisal meeting.

14. What about revalidation?

Medical appraisal and revalidation are separate processes; and criteria for both are set by different governing bodies.

Ensure you include a MSF and a PSQ as part of your appraisal submission once in a 5-year revalidation cycle.

Revalidation is a process that happens in the background and unless requested by the RO, appraisees should continue with ongoing processes as is.

Please also review our section on Revalidation for further information.

15. How do I access the appraisal forms?

The Medical Appraisal forms are integrated into SOAR. To complete the appraisal forms simply login to SOAR, and you will see the forms listed on the menu on the left.

Since the GMC's release of Good Medical Practice 2013, we have ceased support for paper appraisal forms.

16. Timescales for appraisal interviews?

A suggested timescales for appraisal stages is available from the Appraisal section on the website.

17. What if I don't work in a fixed practice setting?

Doctors are encouraged to provide supporting information for their appraisal that is appropriate for the job(s) they do. Appraisal will be much more rewarding if you discuss the most relevant and challenging issues of your work, rather than trying to fit a hypothetical model of practice. For example you may work as:

  • a sessional doctor (locum);
  • work entirely in the out of hours services; or
  • undertake a variety of work in different settings, with no fixed base

There are Toolkit templates and suggestions to cover these situations. The Sessional Doctors Toolkit and the Out of Hours Toolkit provide suggestions for these types of work.

If you are not sure, ask your appraiser or Appraisal Lead for guidance.

18. What if I have additional jobs?

Doctors in this category might include those who:

  • work in a paid external posts (e.g. private practice)
  • have a major management role
  • hold an academic post
  • are a trainer or undergraduate tutor

Your appraisal should cover all aspects of your work as a doctor.  It may be difficult to keep up to date in a job that is a smaller part of your work, and the potential risks of becoming deskilled may be higher.

For this reason it is advised that you:

  • provide an in-depth review of an aspect of your additional job once in each five year cycle
  • ensure that your PDP includes learning needs for all your jobs
  • provide supporting information that is appropriate to this work

If you are not sure how to do this, ask your appraiser or the Appraisal Lead for advice. Others will probably have been in your situation and there are various examples that they can share with you.

Please also review the GPs with additional roles toolkit.

19. Is there a Glossary of Terms?

We have supplied a Glossary of terms and acronyms used in the Medical Appraisal Scotland website and SOAR under the Resources section.

20. I just CCT'ed, what happens next?

Revalidation requirements are different once a trainee has completed their training.

If you are working in a NHS Scotland health board, please liaise with your employing health board's admin team in the first instance who will be able to offer you guidance on what you need to do.

NB - Trainee and appraisal accounts on SOAR are not linked, so a separate login is required for the different access.  The health board admin team will be able to assist with this (make sure you provide them with your GMC number).

This page was last updated on: 06/01/2023