Bruno Rushforth: Who’s been a naughty boy?

A row of expressionless faces greeted me as I was led into the room. “Do you know why you’re here?” was the first question from the Deanery panel.
I suppose it was meant as an ice-breaker, but seemed to reinforce the point that I was a miscreant. I had been asked to appear in person before the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) panel to explain myself for having failed to complete the required number of workplace based assessments, to allow progression into ST3 as a GP trainee.

I could feel the annoyance welling up inside. The e-portfolio, like all good NHS-related IT systems, had been delayed in going live until several weeks into our posts. And reading the small-print, it was now blindingly obvious that we should have had our clinical supervisor’s end-of-placement report uploaded before the end of the fourth month of our six month jobs! As a result, over half our cohort of trainees had missed the deadline and were sent a summons to an audience with the Great and the Good at Deanery HQ.

OK, it was a new system of postgraduate medical assessment, with understandable teething problems, and in a sense we were all – trainees, trainers and the Deanery itself – guinea pigs. Yet it is difficult to empathize when staring down the barrel of a gun. And things didn’t get much better when, of the 45 e-portfolio entries in my ‘learning log’, the panel had only been able to see 4 of these – so I got a ticking off for that too.

In truth, I felt fairly sorry for the various lost souls around the table – they looked bored as hell and were probably dreaming of being back with a heart-sink patient rather than having to endure another uppity trainee. No-one other than the chair so much as uttered a word, and I couldn’t work out whether this was because they were engrossed by my spiel or simply because no-one else had even looked at my e-portfolio.

“We shall be recommending that you are allowed to progress,” was the chair’s final comment, after I’d been made to sweat appropriately for my misdemeanors. Duly humbled I left the Deanery building a reformed character, only swearing mildly under my breath.

Bruno Rushforth