5 questions to prepare for your GP appraisal


From October, annual GP appraisals will start again. But this time, they will be conducted with a new ‘slimmed-down’ approach, focusing far more on your wellness and your personal development. In Professor Powis’ words, the goal of a GP appraisal is ‘support, not paperwork’.

This new approach requires far less input from the GP being appraised; the ‘input-light’ medical appraisal template from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is just one page long. GPappraisals.uk has plenty of details on exactly what you need to supply in advance.

But your appraisal can be - and should be -  much more than a box-ticking exercise. Previous data on GP appraisals shows they can be a real force for positive change in lots of fields:

  • 91% of GPs report that their appraisal was useful for promoting quality improvement in their work
  • 88% of GPs found their appraisal useful for improving patient care
  • 89% report that their appraisal was useful for personal development
  • 89% report that their appraisal was useful for professional development

Your annual appraisal is a chance to take a step back, reorientate yourself and recommit to what’s important to you - more important than ever with ongoing disruption to work this year.

To help you make the most of the appraisal, we’ve suggested 5 steps for you to turn your appraisal into a springboard for your career development, and 5 questions you can ask yourself to get thinking.


1) Know what you want to get out of your appraisal.

It might be a topic you feel very strongly about, and that gets a strong emotional reaction out of you. Or it might be something that you’ve really been meaning to think about, but have never quite found the time for. You can do a lot of this thinking as you submit your pre-appraisal portfolio. 

Question 1: If I get nothing else out of this appraisal, what topic do I want to have covered?


2) Explore your strengths.

It’s easy to pick up on the things that you could improve, but celebrating successes is just as important. By nailing down exactly what you’re doing right, you can not only make sure you consolidate that positive progress, but you can use your strengths as a signpost towards what you may want to do in the future. If you have a particular skill, that could inform how you can help people most.


Question 2: Where have I truly done well this year?


3) Protect your wellbeing.

COVID-19 has obviously been disruptive, but even before the pandemic, GPs were at huge risk of burnout. Use your appraisal as a chance to identify and break destructive cycles, like checking emails when you first wake up, and think about where you might be able to build in more boundaries and protected space for your own health.


Question 3: How can I counter the biggest sources of my work-related stress?


4) Think practically and incrementally.

It’s easy to underestimate the impact of smaller changes, but there’s a lot in their favour. Finding small steps that you can take now means you can start working towards your goals immediately, and you might be more likely to keep up positive action more consistently. Taking more manageable steps forward also helps you manage stress - you’re making progress, but without adding heaps more to your plate.


Question 4: What is the smallest thing I could do now, that moves me towards my goals?


5) Keep an open mind.

Even if you have a very clear idea of what you want to focus on in the coming year, don’t dismiss your appraiser’s input. Often, they’ll ask you questions to get you thinking, or to help you view a problem from a different angle. Considering that 97% of GPs are happy with the skills of their appraiser, it’s likely that they will help you uncover helpful ways to manage your work and take time for yourself and your own path. 


Question 5: What am I assuming about my appraisal?


With these questions, you’ll set yourself up for your next successful, thriving year in general practice. Enjoy your appraisals!



Want a tool to help you manage your appraisal and track CPD? Watch this short video from our 21st Century GP webinar series on the pros and cons of the different digital tools available.

To download the rest of the recording, fill out the form on this page.



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