News Items

Top 12 Tips from 2017

Posted Date: 18 Dec 2017

Season's Greetings!

In the past 12 months, we've dealt with nearly 8000 user queries on the helpdesk.  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. One annual appraisal per appraisal period
    • SOAR is designed to handle one appraisal at a time; for ease of use, please ensure you complete and sign off any outstanding appraisals before starting a new one.
    • Appraisers/Admins please note, if you have any old appraisals where either the Appraisee or the Appraiser is no longer assigned to you, please contact the helpdesk for further assistance.
  2. Make sure you have the correct web addresss
    • There is a significant number of users who do not bookmark the websites they visit. If this applies to you, please make sure you enter the FULL and CORRECT web address:
    • Medical Appraisal Scotland:
    • SOAR:
    • We have had reported incidents from users claiming that our websites had been blocked by the SWAN network. On investigation, we discovered the users had only entered a partial address – (missing This partial address actually belongs to a foreign company and redirects users to a gambling website littered with viruses and spambots (hence the block). Please be vigilant and make sure you enter the FULL and correct web address, instead of relying on Google or other search engines' predictive text.
    • Better yet, make use of bookmarks if you can.
  3. Nominating MSF raters
    • When you are nominating raters for your MSF, please take care and ensure you enter the correct email address. Watch out for things like john.smith vs johnsmith vs john_smith.
    • If your raters inform you that they have not received the automated email invites, please check the email addresses as per above. Also ask your users to check their junk/spam folders in case their local software provider has blocked external emails.
    • We have investigated this thoroughly with the help of SWAN and, there are no blocks on the network to the automated emails generated by SOAR or our 3rd MSF provider, WASP. If your raters are not receiving the intended emails, please ask them to contact their local IT for further assistance.
  4. MSF in 2018
    • 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.
    • MSF Reports are set to automatically close THREE weeks from when you have nominated your raters; provided you have completed your self-assessment AND received a minimum of 8 rater-responses. Make sure you nominate at least 15 raters to give you a better chance to achieve the minimum 8 required.
    • MSF Reports are automatically downloaded (if closed and completed) to SOAR within 7 days of your appraisal date; though you can manually download it at any time so long as the report is closed on WASP. The downloaded MSF will be stored in your draft Form 3 Domain 3 Supporting Info page. Please contact the SOAR helpdesk if you are unable to locate your MSF Report there.
    • You can use the Contact Us page on WASP, but please do not follow-up with a separate email to the SOAR helpdesk – tickets from WASP automatically goes to SOAR so no need to send separate ticket (this will create duplicate entries on the helpdesk and adds to confusion).
  5. Contacting the Helpdesk
    • You can use the "help" button on SOAR to get in touch; or
    • Email directly to
    • Always send a NEW ticket for new queries to the helpdesk. Do NOT reply to old helpdesk emails 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. These email programs tend to capture the generic reply emails (e.g. in the frequent contacts; so to avoid reopening tickets accidentally, please add our email to you address book.
  6. Changing appraisal meeting details (for Appraisers)
    • On SOAR the Appraiser (and Local Admin teams) can create and amend interview details. If there's a change in meeting details, the Appraiser needs to amend original interview details on SOAR; please do NOT create an unnecessary new interview! (It will mess up the appraisal period for future appraisals.)
  7. Apple Mac users and use of "Pages" and "Numbers"
    • If you are an Apple Mac user, please EXPORT your Pages and Numbers documents to MS Word .doc format (or Rich Text Format .rtf) and MS Excel .xls format (or Comma-Separated Values format .csv) respectively.
    • Pages and Numbers are Mac-specific software and file extensions and cannot be opened on a regular PC desktop or laptop.
  8. 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.
  9. Unable to login? Try a "hard" refresh
    • We have had a number of users who experienced problems logging in after having their passwords reset. If this is the case, try a “hard” refresh by holding the Control key on the keyboard and pressing F5 (or Control + R) on the SOAR login page.
  10. Timeline function for Appraisees
    • If you are unsure of what stage you are at with your appraisal, navigate to your homepage (by clicking on the SOAR logo near top left) to access your appraisal timeline function.
    • If there is no timeline – you don’t have an appraisal set up yet. Please liaise with your Appraiser (or Local Admin team) to get this added.
    • You CAN continue to complete the appraisal forms (from menu on the left) without an appraisal set up; you just won’t be able to submit and share with your appraiser.
    • If you have more than one timeline (you shouldn’t), chances are you have either a duplicate appraisal, or you have an old appraisal still to be completed. Please contact the helpdesk for further assistance.
  11. 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 (and within 3 years of the Revalidation Due Date).
  12. Check your Form 4 BEFORE approving / signing off (in particular your PDP!)
    • And finally, allow us to clear up a common misconception: unlocking the Form 4 to resubmit PDPs will NOT work.
    • When a Form 4 is signed off, all submitted forms/documents are archived, and the Appraisee’s draft Form 3 is 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 (very complicated) workarounds – avoid possible confusions by ensuring you are happy with everything on Form 4 BEFORE you sign it off.

Above all else, remember – 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 -

Holiday Helpdesk Support

Please be aware that from 22nd December 2017 onwards, there will only be intermittent SOAR helpdesk support available throughout the festive period. Normal service will resume on 4th January 2018.

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

All the best for 2018!

This page was last updated on: 21/12/2018