News Items

Top 12 Tips from 2016

Posted Date: 20 Dec 2016

Season's Greetings!

In the past 12 months, we've dealt with nearly 7000 user queries on the helpdesk (2000 less than previous 12 months!). Similar to last year, we have come up with a top 12 tip list below, one for every month - we hope you find this useful.

  1. Recognition of Trainers (RoT) Form
    • Following user feedback, the RoT form has been streamlined to make completion more straightforward.  If you have been incorrectly identified (or not) as someone with trainer roles, please liaise with your DME to have the information corrected on a system called Turas, where the trainer details on SOAR is imported from. More information on Form 7 is available.
  2. Login page alerts
    • Did you know that there are alert notices on the SOAR login page? Sometimes to alert users of forthcoming system maintenance downtime, sometimes to bring to attention some key development around appraisal or revalidation. Check them out next time you login to SOAR.
  3. Changing appraisal meeting details
    • On SOAR the Appraiser (and Local Admin teams) can create and amend interview details. If there's a change in meeting details, please amend original interview details on SOAR; do NOT create an unnecessary new interview! (It will mess up the appraisal period for future appraisals.).
  4. MSF in 2017
    • We are currently exploring options in provision of MSF beyond the end of this fiscal year. A further announcement will be made as soon as plans are finalised.
    • Meantime please continue to use the MSF software available via SOAR as you need them. If you encounter an ERROR 500 message, it might be that your email address has changed on SOAR since your last MSF, or your self-assessment questionnaire is still outstanding. If this is not the case please contact the helpdesk for further assistance.
    • Please also note the downloaded MSF Report is stored in your draft Appraisal Form 3 Domain 3 Supporting info section.
  5. Contacting the Helpdesk
    • You can use the "help" button on SOAR to get in touch; or
    • Email directly to
    • Do NOT reply to old helpdesk tickets when sending in a new request (this reopens old tickets and those who were cc'ed into the tickets before will be cc'ed into your new query); if using email programs like GroupWise or Outlook, make sure you add in your address book (so they don't capture the generic reply emails in the frequent contacts instead)
    • The helpdesk system on SOAR will probably be changed in the new fiscal year, but so long as you continue to use the help button or the email address above, our change will not impact you.
  6. Got locked out over the weekend? Unlock your SOAR account yourself!
    • Provided you have the correct email address on the system, you will be able to unlock your own account if you get locked out over the weekend by following the appropriate links on the login page
  7. Acronyms and Glossary
  8. Timeline function for Appraisees
    • Following user feedback, a number of changes were made to SOAR and in particular the appraisal forms' format and layout. The most significant change has been the introduction of mandatory completion of Supporting Information on all four GMC domains. To aid this, the timeline function for Appraisees was updated so that when an item is highlighted in red, the appraisee knows that section requires their completion.
  9. Check your Form 4 BEFORE approving / signing off (in particular your PDP!)
    • Nearly 200 queries this year involved the unlocking of Form 4 (50% less than last year)
    • Most of which centres around the need to add MSF or PSQ, which is fine (we simply unlock Form 4 and enable the “Additional Documents” function)
    • But quite a lot involved the amending of PDP items on Form 4, which is more complicated. Unlocking the Form 4 to resubmit the PDP will NOT work - because when a Form 4 is signed off, all submitted forms/documents are archived and the Appraisee’s draft Form 3 is blanked/wiped/reset to allow them to start preparing for next year’s appraisal. Therefore, if we unlock a Form 4 and the Appraisee resubmits - they will effectively submit a blank set of forms.
    • Whilst there are (complicated) workarounds – avoid possible confusions by ensuring you are happy with everything on Form 4 before you sign it off.
  10. The 0/1 scoring of Core Elements in Form 4 Domains:
    • "1" means acceptable supporting information was submitted, or appropriate discussion was had over absence / lack of supporting information; if "0" was scored by the Appraiser, it is flagged for the RO's attention and will impact on the Appraisee's revalidation.
    • In a typical appraisal, we would expect the Appraisee to have presented / discussed supporting information in all four Domains against each of the Core Elements - apart from MSF and PSQ (Patient Survey Questionnaire) where these are only required once in a 5-year Revalidation cycle.
  11. QIA examples library and other resources
    • On the Medical Appraisal Scotland website, there are a number of different resources available to help support you in the appraisal process. One such resource is our collection of QIA (Quality Improvement Activities) examples. These are real examples submitted by your colleagues (anonymised for data protection).
    • If you would like to contribute to the QIA library - please complete the QIA submission form along with your QIA examples and reflection.
  12. Appraisal is NOT a tickbox exercise, it is a professional process with a peer - don't leave it until the last minute!
    • This will cause YOU problems and is at best discourteous to your colleagues.

As ever, if you have any queries or feedback on SOAR, please send them to the helpdesk -

We will schedule new WebEx demos of SOAR shortly after the New Year. We will update folks when these are available via the Events page for details and booking.

Holiday Helpdesk Support

Please be aware that from 23rd December 2016 onwards, there will only be intermittent SOAR helpdesk support available throughout the festive period. Normal service will resume on 4th January 2017.

And finally, from the NES Medical Appraisal Scotland team, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Kind regards,

William Liu
Senior Information Analyst (Digital)


This page was last updated on: 04/12/2017