Appraisal for General Practitioners Working in the NHS

8 Feb

Wednesday.  My day off.  I love Wednesdays – they are special.  A day away from the pleasures of work.  Now I’m not saying that my glamorous job doesn’t have its high points – recognised at last by Disneyland Paris who even now are making preparations to unveil their latest attraction: ‘GP Junction’.  This exciting ride will see guests sit in carriages lined with latex before being sprayed with KY Jelly (other forms of lubrication available) and then trundling into an enormous backside on ‘Rectum Railway’.  (Even Max Clifford can’t boast PR like that.)

So how to spend this glorious day?  I wake at 6.10 (a wondrous fifty minute lie-in), have breakfast, walk the dog, a shower and then consider how I should spend the endless hours of free time stretching ahead of me.  Perhaps I will potter round the shops in my local town, maybe try the new recipe I scribbled down last year, meet a friend for lunch, catch up on my reading or settle down to finally watch that TV programme I recorded weeks ago?

Or maybe I’ll spend the day working on my appraisal documentation.  Yes, that special time of year is upon me once more.  Bearing down more quickly than Andrew Lansley’s P45 (I’m nothing if not optimistic) is a three hour session with a specially trained GP who will gently point out my shortcomings, suggest improvements, drink my coffee, eat my biscuits and then e-mail me “Form 4” so I have a fresh set of objectives to aim for this year.

The appraisal documentation can be downloaded (should that not be ‘downladen’?) from the PCT’s website.  If you have a decent broadband speed it will complete in around an hour, if you’re on dial-up then you may as well set off on foot to collect it in person – it will save you time (take a large portmanteau).  I’m not saying it’s a formidable document, but I’d rather complete my tax return during a comfort break in the Tripoli branch of Little Chef any day of the week.

You know the sort of thing of course, it’s split into sections for ease (they jest) of completion along the following lines:

Working with colleagues:

What are your strengths in working with colleagues?

What are your weaknesses in working with colleagues?

How has your work with colleagues improved since your last appraisal?

What are the factors which constrain you in working with colleagues?

What actions might you take to improve your work with colleagues this year?

Naturally when you’re into your third hour of considering constraints, improvements, strengths and weaknesses, factors such as ‘the will to live’ start to become ever more important, but you console yourself that there’s only another two thirds of the thing to go.  Yes, the joy of sitting in my study for hour upon hour of this, not even disturbed today by a passing Jehovah’s Witness (what I would have done for a copy of Watchtower at three o’clock this afternoon: it might at least have kept me Awake) is difficult to convey in written form.

After several hours of toil my documentation is complete.  I am post One Show now and my precious day off has passed in a haze of questioning and contemplation.  Am I really a better GP for this annual exercise in introspection?  Do you think Disneyland Paris is really opening ‘GP Junction’?

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