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GP Assistant – Training Opportunity

As part of a national 'proof of concept' project, Health Education England recently commissioned a pilot across the North West in conjunction with The Spinney Enhanced Training Practice that will see 90 candidates across general practice trained in to the role of GP Assistant and have the opportunity to be the first to achieve the GP Assistant Certificate.


The Future of Primary Care (Primary Care Commission, 2015) identified a potential positive impact of implementing the GP Assistant (Medical Assistant) role in General Practice as a new role to make improvements in delivery of patient care in General Practice. This is further supported by the General Practice Forward View (NHS England, April 2016). Locally in the North West, HEE’s General Practice Workforce Reports indicate a higher percentage than the national average of Admin and Clerical staff, presenting the opportunity for new role development with existing staff into the “hybrid” Medical Assistant role. The “hybrid” Medical Assistant role was initially developed in the United States, where the focus is to deliver clinical and non-clinical duties supporting General Practitioners in their day-to-day management of patients, and specifically aimed at reducing administrative burden.

What do they do?

GP Assistants (also known as Medical Assistants) support doctors in the smooth running of their surgery by handling the routine administration and some basic clinical duties enabling the GP to focus on the patient.

As a GP Assistant you will be trained to help with:

  • Sorting all clinical post and prioritising
  • Extracting all information from clinical letters that needs coding
  • Dealing with all routine clinical post directly e.g. DNA letters, 2WW etc.
  • Arranging appointments, referrals and follow up appointments of patients
  • Preparing patients prior to going in to see the GP, taking a brief history and basic readings in readiness for the GP appointment.
  • Dipping urine, taking blood pressure, ECGs & phlebotomy
  • Completing basic (non-opinion) forms for the GP to approve and sign such as insurance forms, mortgage forms e.g. ESA113 etc
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients including arranging follow up appointments
  • Helping the GP liaise with outside agencies i.e. getting an on call doctor on the phone to ask advice or arrange admission while the GP can continue with their consultation(s)
  • Support the GP with immunisations/wound care

What is the GP Assistant Certificate?

The GPA certificate will comprise of web based modules and practical sessions with a GP mentor within your practice.  You will need to dedicate one full day a week to the course but this will be carried out in your place of work.  Half a day working on the portal to complete the online modules and half a day gaining hands on experience with your GP mentor.  You may find your GP mentor may second you to the practice nurse to help you train in areas relating to simple clinical duties such as blood pressures but they will ultimately be responsible for signing you off as competent. 

You will need to be supported by a GP who will act as your mentor.  Assuming you meet the entry criteria (detailed below) your GP mentor can put you forward for the GP Assistant Certificate. 

The workbook syllabus has been created by Sysco Training in conjunction with GP, Practice Nurse and Practice Manager input.  The level 4 certificate has been accredited by University of Chester.

The aim of the certificate is to support this innovate piece of work and encourage a standardised approach.

What does a working day look like for a GP Assistant?

Well ultimately this will be up to the practice.  You may already have systems in place to deal with certain pieces of work and may just want to plug gaps.  Alternatively you may want a complete system change practice wide.  The choice is yours.  The GPA Certificate will provide candidates with the tools to offer a variety of services to support the GP. 

What is the cost?

Currently, as this is a pilot, there will be no cost.  In fact your practice will be eligible for £1500 per candidate in recognition of the clinical time given to support learners in achieving their competencies.  This will be paid to the practice on completion of the GPA Certificate.

How long will it take?

The course takes 6 months to complete and will commence in October 2017.

What is the entry criteria?

Places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. We have 45 places to offer in October and a further 45 February 2018.  Candidates can be put forward by the GP who will be mentoring them and the Practice Manager.  We would expect that the candidate is already considered competent in good patient care from their experience as administrators and be DBS checked to an enhanced level.  The candidate must have a named GP mentor who will be responsible for supporting them through their competencies.

How do I apply?

An application form should be completed and submitted to Spinney.ETPadmin@nhs.net  by 1st September 2017.  The application form is attached in the Related Documents below:

Want to learn more?

Contact: Spinney.ETPadmin@nhs.net

Watch the You Tube video of how one GP practice in the North West has developed a new Medical Assistant role, transforming the way they work and practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-GVx4dcRPw&feature=youtu.be 

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