University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) provides services to 1.3 million people living in Southampton and south Hampshire, plus specialist services to more than 3 million people in central southern England and the Channel Islands. The Trust is also a major centre for teaching and research in association with the University of Southampton and gained Foundation status in October 2011. The Trust employs 7,500 staff and is responsible for the revalidation of some 570 consultants, 35 SAS doctors and 110 doctors at clinical fellow and Trust doctor level. A major challenge that UHS faced at the outset was ensuring that appraisals happen consistently. While appraisals were taking place to varying degrees across the Trust, they were primarily being held for the purpose of awards or specific career progression, as opposed to continuing professional development.
Another challenge was communication, both disseminating the latest information and ensuring that appraisals were reported back fully to the central team. The Trust is so vast and so widespread that, in certain instances, appraisals may well have been taking place, yet records were not being processed through the correct channels. Improving levels of engagement across the Trust was also vital. With a large and diverse network of doctors across a range of specialty areas, one particular difficulty was ensuring that guidance was not too generic but took into account the full spectrum of practitioners across the organisation. Promoting importance of supporting information in such a large organisation, and how to go about collecting it, was also a key area to get right.