When you hear that your appraisal is due, it sends fear into the heart of even the most 'hardened' and experienced nurses. More forms to fill in and then a dreaded face-to-face meeting with your boss. And it often seems as though all of this is just to tick a few boxes for the employer.
Employers utilise the appraisal system to manage their workforce, their current workflow and to plan for future requirements. Careers can be planned, safety issues addressed, and training resourced. However, appraisals could be so much more. Since the Francis inquiry, we have seen nursing as a profession take a battering. We have also had to recognise that some of our professional standards have slipped in some organisations.
Francis recommended that, 'As part of a mandatory annual performance appraisal, each nurse, regardless of workplace setting, should be required to demonstrate in their annual learning portfolio an up-to-date knowledge of nursing practice and its implementation. Alongside developmental requirements, this should contain documented evidence of recognised training undertaken, including wider relevant learning. It should also demonstrate commitment, compassion and caring for patients, evidenced by feedback from patients and families on the care provided by the nurse. This portfolio and each annual appraisal should be made available to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, if requested, as part of a nurse's revalidation process.'
Francis also recommended that the Nursing and Midwifery Council introduce a system of revalidation similar to that of the General Medical Council, as a means of reinforcing the status and competence of registered nurses, and providing additional protection to the public.
Some organisations are already working on integrated appraisal systems that could address these aims (for example www.clarity.co.uk/our-products/innovations/). They are being used by over 25,000 medical staff as part of their revalidation. Let us learn from our medical colleagues that appraisals need to become part of our re-registration process.