Since May 2011, practitioners are obliged to commit to a formal
process of professional development, promoting and improving
professional competence. As the year anniversary of this statutory
obligation tolls, practitioners now face further changes.
On-site performance assessments are now operational, where concerns
arise that a practitioner is not maintaining the required level of
Given that on-site assessments were so recently introduced, it is
premature to speculate overly on their impact. However, for
practitioners looking to understand how the process works, the
following section outlines the various steps involved.
Performance Assessment – Getting
A practitioner may:
be referred for performance assessment following consideration
of a complaint by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee;
undertake to be referred for performance assessment following a
Fitness to Practise Committee Inquiry; or
be referred for performance assessment by direction of the
Medical Council, following a Fitness to Practise Committee
If a practitioner has been referred for performance assessment,
a carefully selected and trained assessment team, usually
comprising two doctors and one patient representative, will
investigate their practice. Before the visit, the team may
have gathered background information about the practitioner;
appointed an occupational health assessor to conduct a health
assessment of the practitioner/or questioned their staff and
patients on their views on a wide range of issues concerning their
The team may then visit the practitioner's workplace to
observe their interactions with patients, assess their knowledge
and skill and review their performance and practice. This may
involve an initial interview with the practitioner; a review of
their systems and processes; a review of a sample of clinical
records; direct observation of the practitioner practising their
day to day clinical work and case based assessment.
The team will then prepare a report, for consideration by the
Medical Council. The practitioner will have an opportunity to
provide their observations on the report, together with proposals
for an action plan, to improve their knowledge, skill and /or
practice management. The Council will then decide what action
(if any) is necessary to ensure the practitioner's ongoing
professional competence and will monitor the practitioner until
they are satisfied that they are maintaining professional
The operation of performance assessments in practice remains to be
seen, however, it certainly provides an additional option for the
Medical Council, in handling concerns about practitioners,
alongside its existing disciplinary proceedings.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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