They can help to free up GPs time and contribute to the smooth running of appointments, improving patients experience in the surgery.
The GP Assistant role (sometimes known as Medical Assistants) was initially developed in the United States, to safely deliver a combination of routine administrative tasks and some basic clinical duties in the general practice setting. The focus being on supporting General Practitioners in their day-to-day management of patients, specifically aimed at reducing the administrative burden, making best use of consultation time and supporting those particularly vulnerable to isolation who are regular attenders at the practice.
What difference can General Practice Assistants make?
Evidence suggests that effective adoption of this role has the potential to:
- improve patient access and release highly qualified staff to concentrate on treating and managing patients with more complex conditions - HEE GPA Working Group report 2018
- improve patient flow within surgery hours, increasing the time efficiency of appointments, and reduction of waiting times; supporting patient experience by ‘translating’ or reiterating information from the GP - University of Cumbria 2017
- have a positive impact on GP retention and job satisfaction
- reduce time spent by GPs on managing correspondence by 85% - Surrey Heath Community Providers, 2018).
Progress with spread and adoption of General Practice Assistants
Following a successful pilot of the General Practice Assistants (GPAs) role in the North West, Health Education England established a national programme in 2019 to support the spread and adoption of the role across the country, providing provide a consistent approach to developing the role, underpinned by a defined job description and competency framework to support work-based learning.
By 2021, over 350 GPAs had successfully completed the learning programme.
The following feedback from GP practices and GPAs illustrates how the role has impacted on their role, the service and patients:
“The role has been well received by patients. This independence and enthusiasm has been especially visible during the Covid peak, where GPAs have cross covered patient services such as emergency ECGs, supported regional response teams and broadened their roles (within their competencies) to support the practice.”
“In the absence of a GPA role, the practice would probably have trained more HCAs. However, the GPA role was seen as better, because of the breadth of the course, the formal qualification offered, and the ability to flex between administrative and clinical support.”
“One of the GPAs is now considering a clinical career, which they had previously not thought was possible. This is a major personal achievement and will undoubtably benefit the wider NHS by allowing a new route for enthusiastic team members to enter into their careers.”
“We required somebody to help the duty doctor in performing certain tasks, including admin and clinical, during their on-call day. If this was not introduced, the duty doctor would be spending a significant proportion of their on-call day on performing these tasks, when they could instead be more focussed on providing appropriate clinical care to patients and supervision of junior clinical staff.”
For further information about the GPA programme, please follow this link for more information: https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/general-practice-assistant/
Or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.