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Will GP appraisal undermine practice professional development plans?

Lookup NU author(s): Rachel Adams, Dr Diana Jelley, Professor Jan Illing, Professor Tim Van Zwanenberg OBE


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The previous Chief Medical Officer's review of continuing professional development in general practice (1997) recommended that each general practitioner (GP) should have a personal development plan (PDP) and that practices should compile practice professional development plans (PPDPs). Now that annual appraisal is a requirement for all practising doctors in the UK, and a PDP is an expected outcome, what might become of PPDPs? Prior to NHS appraisal, few GPs took part in any form of appraisal and their PDPs were agreed with GP tutors. In the Northern Deanery, a development project on GP appraisal had led to a number of GPs setting up systems of practice-based peer appraisal within their own practices before the advent of compulsory annual appraisal introduced in 2002 by the Department of Health. The English Department of Health guidelines state that appraisal is to be carried out by a 'trained GP peer' - the details of how the process is implemented have been left to the discretion of local primary care trusts (PCTs). This contrasts with Scotland and Wales, who both have a centralised system for the recruitment and training of appraisers and the delivery and evaluation of the appraisal process. Most PCTs in England are conducting appraisals with external appraisers from outside the appraisee's own practice. In the Northern Deanery, a number of PCTs allowed practices with pre-existing practice-based peer appraisal systems to adapt these to fulfil Department of Health appraisal requirements, but with appraisals being carried out by practice partners trained as appraisers. This paper describes the potential differences between 'external' and practice-based GP appraisal. A research project has recently been completed comparing the outcomes of these two methods of appraisal. One of the findings of this study was that many practices undertaking internal practice-based appraisal have elected to move to external appraisal in the future. This might be causing the demise of a system of linked practice and personal development, which had been developed by motivated enthusiasts and had encouraged the production of both PDPs and PPDPs. This could be a perverse effect of implementing GP appraisal on a national basis. © 2004 Radcliffe Publishing.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Adams R, Jelley D, Illing J, Van Zwanenberg T, Walker C

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinician in Management

Year: 2004

Volume: 12

Issue: 4

Pages: 187-190

Print publication date: 01/01/2004

ISSN (print): 0965-5751

ISSN (electronic):