Supporting information for appraisal

You do not have to document all your learning activities. We recommend that you focus on quality not quantity when it comes to collecting your supporting information.

You should be selective about documenting your reflection on your most valuable and meaningful learning, over the course of the year. You do not need to record and reflect on every learning activity.

For example, if you find it convenient and helpful to record significantly more than 50 CPD credits for your own benefit to capture your learning then that is your choice, but your appraiser will focus on the quality of your learning and reflection.

The GMC has not set any requirements about exactly how CPD should be evidenced or recorded.

Recording and demonstrating your CPD by scanning and storing certificates that only record time spent, without indicating what you learned, is not a good use of your time.

For appraisal and revalidation, you only need to include a reflective note on the learning. You should keep a simple learning log in a way that is convenient to you so that you can capture your learning points and their implications for the quality of your care.

There are some learning activities that are well documented by a certificate because the certificate is designed to help you capture your reflection on the learning at the time.

You might want to scan certificates relating to training specifically required by your designated body or any organisations in which you work. This does not make them part of the GMC requirements for revalidation, but it does allow you to collect and keep important documentation securely.

The College provides a CPD Submission programme to Members, Fellows, Affiliates and Specialist Associates, a straightforward online platform that allows you to record your CPD activities and generate a certificate of good standing for CPD – use of our CPD Submissions system is recommended but not mandatory for psychiatrists.

Organising supporting information into your portfolio, and making the sign-offs and statements before appraisal discussion, should not take long.

We recommend that your supporting information should be generated from your day-to-day work and added to your portfolio as you go along.

Producing a CPD log can be difficult and time consuming as a retrospective exercise. It is much easier to make regular entries into your learning diary throughout the year, and this is recommended if you use the CPD Submissions programme provided by the College.

We recommend that the final stage of organising the supporting information and completing your portfolio before your appraisal should take no more than half a day, around 3.5 to 4 hours.

If it is taking longer than this, or the effort feels disproportionate, you should discuss with your appraiser how you can simplify what you do.

Some doctors with complex portfolio careers and several roles to include may take a little more time than this, but you should seek advice if it takes more than a day to organise.

The GMC requires doctors to provide appropriate supporting information across the whole of their scope of work that requires a licence to practise, not just clinical roles.

You must declare all parts of your scope of work and, for each of them where appropriate, provide all six types of supporting information over the revalidation cycle:

  • Continuing professional development (CPD)
  • Quality improvement activity (QIA)
  • Significant events, if there are any
  • Patient and colleague feedback
  • Complaints and compliments, if there are any

We recommend that you keep the documentation of your supporting information reasonable and proportionate while ensuring that you have demonstrated that you are up-to-date and fit to practise in every scope of work.

Your appraiser will help you determine whether there are any gaps in your portfolio of supporting information and support you in working out how best to fill those gaps.

Your responsible officer (RO) will tell you if your portfolio demonstrates sufficient engagement in reflective practice and provides the supporting information required by the GMC.

If you have any queries that your appraiser cannot resolve, we recommend that you seek early confirmation from your RO that what you are planning is going to be acceptable.

The  GMC Protocol for responsible officers (ROs) making revalidation recommendations states at 2.3.2:

‘Doctors may practise in settings where they do not require a UK licence – for instance, they may work abroad, or they may undertake specific functions in the UK that do not legally require a licence to practise. Where this is the case, it is at your discretion whether you consider supporting information from these practice settings in making your judgement. You should consider whether such information is material in your evaluation of their fitness to practise, taking account of whether it is demonstrably relevant to the doctor’s licensed UK practice and the proportion of the doctor’s supporting information that it represents.’

The GMC requirement is that your appraisal and revalidation portfolio should include supporting information about every part of your scope of work that requires a UK licence. Your RO has the discretion to consider supporting information from other settings in making their revalidation recommendation.

Even in UK practice, you may attend CPD events overseas. It is appropriate to check that the content of such an event is applicable to your scope of work rather than assuming that it will be acceptable.

We recommend that you discuss any proposal to include any such additional supporting information in the first instance with your CPD peer group and then potentially with your appraiser or responsible officer. It is likely that clinical work overseas will have a significant overlap with clinical work in the UK.

It may well be appropriate to include supporting information relating to work overseas when it demonstrates the quality of your reflective practice.

If you are unsure, use your appraisal as an opportunity to reflect on what is appropriate and proportionate with your appraiser, and then agree it with your RO before your revalidation recommendation is due.

There are five key sign-off statements that are normally agreed by your appraiser at the end of your appraisal. If your appraiser decides that one, or more, should be marked as ‘disagree’, this sends a message to you, your next appraiser and the responsible officer (RO) that something may not be ready for revalidation.

This is not in itself a bad thing. It is an important part of ensuring that the appraisal supports you in preparing a portfolio of supporting information appropriate for a positive recommendation to revalidate. Ultimately, your RO makes the decision about your revalidation recommendation, not your appraiser.

There are two different comment boxes for the appraiser, and one comment box for you, to provide an explanation for the disagree statement.

It is relatively common for a doctor to have made no progress with their previous PDP, either because they had no previous PDP, in the case of a first ever appraisal, or because circumstances changed significantly during the year, making the earlier PDP goals less appropriate.

In these circumstances, it is appropriate for the appraiser to mark disagree to the statement about progress with the previous PDP, and enter an explanation in the comments box.

Even the fifth sign-off statement, which states that there are no concerns arising from the appraisal documentation or discussion that suggest a risk to patient safety, may sometimes need to be marked as disagree. For example, if a doctor is currently under investigation, and has their annual appraisal in the period before the investigation is resolved, they could not be revalidated as there are outstanding concerns, and the appraiser should indicate this by marking the fifth statement as ‘disagree’.

It is important that the appraiser puts an explanation in the comments box provided in every case where they have marked a statement as disagree.

In all cases, you also have a box in which to enter your comments, although you do not have to comment if you have nothing to add to the appraiser’s explanation.

We do not recommend that you seek sign-off statements that there are no concerns about your practice in all of your roles every year.

Instead, you should reflect on how the safety of patients is being assured and the governance, clinical or otherwise, of the systems you are working in. You should always know how to report on a significant incident and how you would find out if there was a complaint about you.

It is important that you have declared all the different parts of your scope of work and provided appropriate supporting information to demonstrate that you are keeping up-to-date, reviewing your performance and seeking and acting on feedback in each.

It is also important that you ensure that your responsible officer (RO) knows how to contact the clinical governance leads from any part of your scope of work that is not for your main designated body so that they can seek the assurance that they need when they need it.

We recommend that any governance concerns arising about a doctor should be communicated to the RO as and when they arise, by those responsible for the governance surrounding a doctor’s work. It is crucial that concerns can be dealt with in a timely fashion and are not linked to the revalidation cycle.

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