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Organising multisource feedback for revalidation

Dr Hadrian Moss explains what practices can do to help their GPs organise multisource feedback for revalidation.

Receptionists are ideally suited to hand out patient questionnaires (Image: iStock)
Receptionists are ideally suited to hand out patient questionnaires (Image: iStock)

Revalidation is upon us and, as part of the accreditation process, feedback from both colleagues and patients must have been undertaken once in every revalidation cycle.

That usually means every five years, but the feedback must also be relevant to the doctor's current scope of practice as advised in the GMC publication Ready for Revalidation - Supporting information for appraisal and revalidation

This feedback is most easily gathered using the GMC's patient and colleague questionnaires for revalidation that you can download from its website. Guidance documents on how to distribute and collate the questionnaires are also available on the GMC site.

Delegate to others

The GMC recommends that the doctor does not personally give out these questionnaires unless unavoidable. Again, guidance is available on how this should be done from the GMC website.

At GP practices the receptionists are ideally suited to distributing and overseeing collection of patient questionnaires. The questionnaires should be given to consecutive patients to complete as soon after their consultation as practical.

Someone within the practice could distribute and collect colleague questionnaires or preferably someone outside the practice, for example from a nearby practice, could do this.

Outsourcing collation

The most labour intensive part of the feedback process is the collation of the results. 

The GMC makes it quite clear this should not be done by individual GPs. In its guidance document it does not specify who should collate the patient feedback, but says that the colleague feedback should be (but not must be) managed by an independent survey organisation.

The same organisation, of course, could also collate the patient feedback questionnaires. If you do decide to outsource this task expect to pay up to £400 per GP.

There are a number of independent organisations that will undertake this work. Some CCGs, primary care orgaisations and LMCs have agreed to cover the cost either individually or jointly.

But not all GPs have this opportunity and there is no guarantee that where funding is available, it will continue to be.

A less expensive option

Where funding is an issue, an inexpensive option may be to appoint an independent person to collate these questionnaire responses for you and other GPs at the practice.

This would also provide adequate information for GP appraisals, when feedback from all three questionnaires would be discussed and reflected on.

To reduce the amount of work involved and to make this as least arduous as possible, I have designed two Excel spreadsheets that allow answers from the GMC questionnaires to be easily recorded and collated.

The spreadsheets match the GMC patient and colleague questions exactly, and the vertical columns allow responses to be recorded with a number 1 in the appropriate cell that would correspond with a tick in the original questionnaire box.

By using the auto sum feature of Excel the distribution of responses may be calculated both as a number and a percentage of the total number of responses.

Do not be surprised if the number of responses to each question are different, as some patients and colleagues may chose not to fill in the gender, age or ethnicity questions.

Other than using a Word document to record free text comments, no further analysis is required and the spreadsheet printouts can then form the basis of discussion with your appraiser.

Patient and colleague feedback analysis does not have to be a complicated or expensive process - so why pay for a fancy bound copy of the results when a spreadsheet will suffice?

Rules for questionnaire distribution and collection
  • All information and responses will be held in line with the Data Protection Act 1998.

  • Doctors will not see any individual responses from colleagues or patients.

  • Feedback to doctors must be based on the answers from everyone taking part.

  • No respondents should be identifiable in any way.

  • You should make the questionnaires available in alternative formats such as large print, when requested.

  • The GMC patient questionnaire should be distributed to at least 45 consecutive patients and you should expect to collect a minimum of 34 sets of feedback in return.

  • Ideally the questionnaires should be returned in a deposit box, a sealed envelope or posted back to preserve patient confidentiality.

  • The GMC colleague questionnaire should be distributed to at least 20 nominated individuals and should be made up of ten medical and ten non-medical colleagues. A minimum of 15 questionnaires should be returned.

  • The GP should also complete a self-assessment questionnaire which, again, is available from the GMC website.

  • As part of your annual appraisal the feedback from patients, colleagues and your self- assessment questionnaire should be discussed with your appraiser. This discussion will then become part of your revalidation process.

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