What does an assessment involve?

The overall assessment process takes about six months. The assessment itself will last between one and five days.

There will be an introductory interview, which is an opportunity for the doctor to meet the assessment team, and for the team to learn more about the doctor's experience and recent practice.  The team may also visit the doctor's place of work so that they may better understand the working conditions.

The content of the assessment will be chosen by the assessment team and will depend on the doctor’s specialty, grade, the nature of their work and whether they are currently working. Some of the components, known as instruments, are designed to assess performance in the workplace. Others test knowledge and skills through formal examinations.

The instruments the team may choose from are listed below.

  • A review of medical records is conducted to assess the doctor’s record keeping and other aspects of their performance. Under the Medical Act 1983, we have the authority to access patients’ medical records in order to carry out a performance assessment - patient consent is not required. Records will either be inspected on site or copies will be requested. 
  • Interviews or written questionnaires from the doctor's colleagues.  Colleagues will be asked how the doctor performs on a day-to-day basis.  Completed questionnaires and a transcript of any interviews will be provided to the doctor and they may comment on these.  If you are a colleague who has been asked to participate in the assessment, please make sure you read the guide for interviewees and those completing colleague questionnaires.
  • An observation of the doctor at work.
  • A case based discussion to assess the doctor’s reasoning and decision making. The assessors choose cases or scenarios to discuss from other parts of the assessment.
  • A knowledge test that will be a written, multiple choice paper with questions relevant to the doctor's work. 
  • An Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is conducted at a clinical assessment centre, and contains a series of scenarios that the doctor might encounter in the course of a working day. For each scenario, the doctor is given a task to perform that may involve, for example, using medical equipment or interacting with role players acting as patients. 
  • A simulated GP surgery is a series of consultations with role players. The assessors observe and assess the doctor’s clinical and communication skills.
  • A diagnostic reporting session is a series of images or slides on which the doctor will be asked to make a diagnosis and, in some cases, discuss management options.
  • Assessed interviews with the doctor are an opportunity for the assessment team to ask questions and add the doctor’s comments to the information gathered throughout the assessment.     

Occasionally assessment tools offered by external providers, such as a royal college or medical school, are also used.