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What is appraisal?

The main purpose of appraisal is to give the appraisee the opportunity to reflect on their work and learning needs in order to improve their performance. This can be achieved through discussing their development and feedback on their job performance in a way that is constructive and motivational. It should result in an effective personal development plan. So lesson one is not to spend 95% of the time available purely reviewing past performance and lesson two is to involve the appraisee fully in the discussion so that they can get the maximum benefit from it.
Ideally appraisal should be:

  • a piece of ‘two-way’ rather than ‘one-way’ communication
  • a process rather than an event
  • a tool for development as well as for assessing performance.


It is also important to be clear on a couple of things that appraisal is not. First, appraisal is not a disciplinary process or a disciplinary discussion. There are other, separate processes for addressing serious issues to do with conduct or capability, which should be followed and used appropriately. Second, it is not a discussion you ‘save things up for’. Whether containing praise or criticism, merits or mistakes, timely feedback is really the only sort of feedback that has value. So there should essentially be no surprises in the appraisal discussion.

In the case of UK doctors appraisal should now provide an opportunity to reflect on clinical, managerial and educational work across all roles for which the doctor holds a GMC licence to practice. One of the aims is to improve patient care and also to provide a platform to demonstrate that the doctor is up to date and fit to practise.

As part of this process the appraiser will need to say whether they agree or disagree with a list of statements that:

  1. An appraisal has taken place that reflects the whole of the doctor's scope of work and addresses the principles and values set out in Good Medical Practice
  2. Appropriate supporting information has been presented in accordance with the Good Medical Practice Framework for Appraisal and Revalidation and this reflects the nature and scope of the doctor's work
  3. A review that demonstrates appropriate progress against last year's personal development plan has taken place
  4. An agreement has been reached with the doctor about a new personal development plan and any associated actions for the coming year

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