General practitioner

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BMA intervention secures U-turn over appraisal fees

A PCT cluster has backed down over proposals to charge appraisal fees to salaried GPs, thanks to BMA intervention.

The NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire cluster was asking £100 to process and store emailed appraisal documents.

In addition, GPs in the PCT cluster can no longer submit hard copies of their supporting documentation, and are instead being encouraged to use the e-portfolio offered by the Royal College of GPs or other toolkits.

But BMA employment adviser Shirley Pereira pointed out that the Royal College of GPs charged £120 for non-members to use their e-portfolio, and other systems also incurred charges.

Unreasonable charge

She argued that it was wrong for salaried GPs to have to pay for something that would be required for revalidation, which is set to be introduced later this year.

Ms Pereira insisted: ‘Salaried GPs do not have a choice over doing appraisal; it is mandatory, and it seems unfair to charge for it.’

Bristol salaried GP Andrew Fairbairn welcomed the decision to drop the fees, and said they would have set a bad precedent.

He said: ‘I think it’s unreasonable for the employer to charge you for something that is a requirement of your job … I can’t practise if I’m not appraised. I doubt there are many other professions that are expected to pay for their appraisal.’

Fee withdrawn

NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire director of quality and governance Lindsey Scott said doctors were being encouraged to use a toolkit rather than provide a large dossier of evidence as they had in the past.

She said that the fee would have covered the time it took to sort and collate emailed documents, and the cost of storage in a secure environment, although this would only be agreed for the life of the PCT cluster, until March 2013.

Ms Scott added: ‘Since the toolkits have been made available, it has become apparent that there is only a small number of doctors who will not use [them] to support their appraisals. We now feel able to withdraw the proposal for a fee.’

BMJ Portfolio

The BMJ Portfolio is free for all healthcare professionals, and automatically uploads any started BMJ Learning modules.

Doctors who are registered with BMJ Learning, which is free for BMA members, can access the BMJ Portfolio with their BMJ Learning log-in details.