Appraisal, revalidation and associated activities (compiling your portfolio, recording CPD and quality improvement, formal feedback) have been suspended until further notice. This is to allow doctors, appraisers and the associated administrative teams to focus on clinical work and be deployed in the best possible way to support the COVID-19 emergency situation.
No doctor’s licence to practise will be affected by this.
If you are clear about this, you do not need to read further. If you have any questions, these FAQs may help.
On 17 March 2020, the GMC announced that it was going to change revalidation dates for all doctors with a revalidation recommendation due before the end of September 2020, the effect being to re-set the date for 12 months’ later. These changes came into effect over the weekend 21/22 March 2020. This decision has been taken to relieve the pressure on doctors, Responsible Officers and governance teams during the pandemic. This is a proportionate response to free up clinical time in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and will have no repercussions for doctors.
By changing your revalidation recommendation due date, the GMC has removed the requirement for your Responsible Officer to make a recommendation about your revalidation. You can carry on practising as before and if not already completed, you have an extra year in which to complete all the requirements for your revalidation recommendation. This is so that you do not need to worry about them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If your medical appraisals to date and the governance information checks revealed that you were ready to revalidate before now, you may have already had a positive revalidation recommendation made. If this was before 21st March, when the GMC made a block revalidation date change, you will have received notification that a decision has been made to revalidate you and you will have received a new revalidation date for 2025. You have started your next revalidation cycle in the usual way.
You do not need to contact the appraisal office. The GMC has already announced that it has changed revalidation dates for all doctors with a revalidation recommendation due before the end of September 2020. Your GMC licence to practise will continue unaffected for that time.
You do not need to contact the appraisal office. Even if your revalidation recommendation due date is after the end of September 2020 and has not yet been changed, don’t worry about your revalidation recommendation. There is a pathway for the GMC to make the decision to defer your recommendation date to give more time for you to collect supporting information. During that time your UK licence to practise will continue unaffected to the new revalidation recommendation date, so you will not be disadvantaged. If it is the last one before your revalidation recommendation is due, your next appraisal, in 2021-22, will be your revalidation-ready appraisal.
Every designated body and Responsible Officer has the authority to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in an appropriate way for their organisation and context. You will need to check what your RO has decided.
On 20th March 2020, NHS England/Improvement announced a suspension of all annual appraisals for doctors working in the NHS for the foreseeable future (at least until the end of September, in line with the GMC change in recommendation dates). Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and larger designated bodies, are expected to follow suit.
Doctors who were due to have their annual appraisal up until the end of September will NOT be expected to have an annual appraisal this year and their appraisal will be carried forward twelve months. This is a pragmatic decision to free-up clinicians at this time and to avoid creating a year-end bunching problem by postponing the appraisal instead of cancelling it. There will be no repercussions for doctors who miss an appraisal due to these exceptional circumstances.
Some smaller designated bodies may choose to postpone their appraisals (rather than cancelling the appraisal for a whole year). Postponement is appropriate if it would be possible to facilitate appraisals for all doctors later in the appraisal year without putting undue pressure on the medical workforce. You should be notified of the situation in your designated body by your Responsible Officer.
For most designated bodies, appraisals have been suspended for the foreseeable future. It seems likely that this suspension will remain in place at least until the end of September 2020, in line with the GMC revalidation recommendation arrangements as above. Further information will be available in due course.
You do not need to contact the appraisal office or complete any documentation. The appraisal administration team will close down your 2020-21 appraisal for you and you will miss a whole appraisal year. This will be acceptable to the GMC who will be aware that the missed appraisal is due to the national emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You do not need to contact the appraisal office or complete any documentation. The appraisal administration team will postpone your 2020-21 appraisal for the time being and let you know if and when, it is considered appropriate to start scheduling appraisals again. This will be acceptable to the GMC who will be aware that the postponed appraisal is due to the national emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In most designated bodies, the appraisal year runs from 1st April to 31st March every year. In some, it is 1st January to 31st December.
For April-March appraisal systems
If you miss your 2019-20 appraisal, due at the end of March 2020, your next appraisal will probably fall due in twelve months’ time i.e. at the end of the 2020-21 appraisal year. If you miss your appraisal in 2020-21, i.e. after 31st March 2020, because of the national emergency and COVID-19 pandemic, your next appraisal will probably fall in your usual month in the 2021-22 appraisal year.
It is likely that your appraisal month will stay the same, to avoid any increase in year-end bunching and pressure on appraisers, but it is not yet clear how long we will be in a state of emergency or these measures will need to be in place, so please be patient. Further information will be available in due course.
When systems are back to normal, you will be notified once your appraisal is due. In the meantime, if you receive any automated reminders or notifications in error, please be understanding while the administrative processes catch up with this unprecedented situation.
No. If the timing is such that you had already missed your appraisal in 2019-20, for example due to maternity leave or sickness and you have now additionally been told you will miss your appraisal for 2020-21, don’t worry. This is a national emergency and there will be no repercussions for you. Your next appraisal will cover the whole period since your previous one, even if that is more than two years.
Yes. Missing an annual appraisal does not affect the count for the number of consecutive appraisals with the same appraiser. You will be able to complete your series of appraisals with them for continuity, providing they are still appraising and have the capacity.
It would be reasonable to communicate directly with your appraisal toolkit provider once you have had confirmation that you will miss your appraisal due to COVID-19. They will be able to close off your current year’s appraisal portfolio and move any entries made already into the next appraisal year for you.
You do not need to contact your appraisal toolkit provider if you do not have time. We anticipate that the appraisal toolkit providers will take appropriate action in due course, although it may take a little longer than if you contact them directly.
At your next appraisal, you will be able to present any information gathered since your previous appraisal even though the time between appraisals is longer than usual. This includes supporting information entered into your portfolio prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is well understood guidance about what to do if there is a significant gap in your appraisals due to maternity leave or other long-term absence from work. You should keep your supporting information proportionate to your time in work and present what is applicable to your whole scope of work between the two appraisals.
The GMC does not mandate a specific number of credits per year although some Colleges and Faculties do recommend 50 credits. Your Responsible Officer and appraiser will not be expecting you to be collecting evidence of CPD for appraisal during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely that the amount of learning and quality improvement activity undertaken during the pandemic will contribute substantially towards your CPD and QIA for appraisal. Simple record keeping and reflection may well be helpful to you personally during this unique international crisis but you should spend no time on documentation that is not of value to you at this time.
Of course! Continuing Professional Development is about lifelong learning and anything that you learn about which allows you to demonstrate your reflective practice, including COVID-19, will count. The system redesign needed to work out how to alter how you work to be effective in a pandemic is a good example of a quality improvement activity to reflect upon.
Revalidation recommendation due dates up to the end of September 2020 have already been changed, so there will be time once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed to look at collecting and reflecting on feedback.
Even if your revalidation recommendation due date is after the end of September 2020 and has not yet been changed, don’t worry about your revalidation recommendation. There is a pathway for the GMC to make the decision to defer your recommendation date to give more time for you to collect supporting information. During that time your UK licence to practise will continue unaffected to the new revalidation recommendation date, so you will not be disadvantaged.
It is inappropriate to spend time preparing for, or having, an annual medical appraisal for revalidation at this time of national emergency. You and your appraiser, will need to spend your time on your clinical work, or resting and recharging to maintain your health and wellbeing. A once a year intervention is not the right form of support at this time.
If you currently have sanctions on your practice and they stipulate that you have to have an appraisal, you should contact your Responsible Officer or the GMC for advice. If the appraisal does need to go ahead during the pandemic, then arrangements can be made for this. It may not be with your previous appraiser, as they may be a front-line clinician with no capacity to do appraisals at this time. If this is the case, an alternative appraiser will be found so that your appraisal can take place as required. It would be appropriate for you to contact the appraisal office in good time if you know that you are in this situation so that arrangements can be made.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is strongly recommended that appraisals are carried out remotely using telecommunication assistance. This will require the completion of the appropriate documentation to allow the Responsible Officer to monitor which appraisals have been affected and the appraiser will need to include the information that the appraisal was facilitated remotely in their summary.
Top tips for appraisals done remotely:
Revalidation is the recognition that you have demonstrated your continued competence at what you do (across your scope of work) by presenting, reflecting on and discussing at annual appraisal the supporting information about how you keep up to date, review and receive feedback on what you do, and that your designated body has no outstanding concerns about your practice arising from any of the normal governance routes (complaints and significant events etc.).
In a time of national emergency relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is reasonable to suspend the work that goes into the demonstration of continued competence. Maintaining professional standards is still vitally important, but it is safe to assume that doctors who are normally able to demonstrate that they keep up to date and fit to practise will continue to do so. Reducing the burden of non-urgent non-clinical work frees up clinical time and time to rest and recharge.
© 2020 Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.