A second wave of GP Assistants will be trained across the Midlands, with recruitment starting in October. Check out our blog to learn more about GPA, how they can benefit extra flexibility in your workforce and help decrease the administrative burden on your clinical staff. 
What is it? 
 
The GP Assistant (GPA) is a new and emerging role created to relieve some of the pressure on GPs. Former RCGP Chair Dr Maureen Baker said GPAs would be ‘a cross between a healthcare assistant and a doctor’s PA’ combining administrative skills and clinical skills for a versatile, interesting role. 
 
Health Education England is supporting the spread and adoption of this new role. This project will see 60 candidates from across General Practice in the Midlands trained into the GPA role and have the opportunity to achieve the GP Assistant Certificate. This is the second wave of the programme, with more than 30 GPAs already trained across the Midlands. Our first cohort have been enthusiastic about the opportunity to directly help patients, support their teams in new ways, and the chance to gain a qualification whilst not having to stop working. 
 
What can they do? 
 
GPAs are trained to undertake routine administration and basic clinical duties, which may include: 
• Sorting and prioritising clinical post 
• Dealing with routine clinical post directly e.g. DNA letters, 2WW etc. 
• Extracting information from clinical letters that requires coding. 
• Completing basic (non-opinion) forms for the GP to approve and sign such as insurance forms, mortgage forms e.g. ESA113 etc. 
• Preparing patients prior to going in to see the GP, e.g. taking a brief history and observations in readiness for the appointment. 
• Arranging appointments, referrals and follow up appointments of patients 
• Clinical observations, urinalysis, ECGs & phlebotomy. 
• Explaining treatment procedures to patients including arranging follow up. 
• Helping the GP liaise with outside agencies, e.g. contacting an on-call doctor by phone to ask advice or arrange admission while the GP can continue with their consultation(s). 
 
Our first cohort of GPAs were able to cover parts of other team member's roles, including keeping routine administration flowing when a practice manager was off sick and preventing phlebotomy clinics being cancelled for staff absence. 
 
What is the GP Assistant Certificate? 
 
Trainees will need to dedicate one full day a week to the course, which can be achieved flexibly whilst remaining in their place of work. Half a day will be spent working on an online portal to provide evidence of their learning, and half a day gaining hands-on experience with a GP mentor or appropriate member of the workforce. 
 
Trainees will need to be supported by a named GP who will act as mentor and assessor. Trainees may spend time with others, such as practice nurses to gain experience in clinical duties such as blood pressure measurement, but the GP mentor will ultimately be responsible for signing-off the GPA as competent. 
 
The level 4 certificate has been accredited by University of Chester and is worth 10. The workbook and syllabus has been created by Sysco Training working, with GPs, Practice Nurses and Practice Managers. 
 
How long will it take? 
 
The course takes 6-9 months to complete and will commence in January 2021. 
 
What are the entry criteria? 
 
There are no formal qualification requirements. Candidates should be considered competent from their experience as practice administrators or healthcare assistants and possess a current Enhanced DBS disclosure. 
 
Each candidate must have a named GP mentor who will be responsible for supporting them through their competencies. 
 
An Online Launch Event will be held for all successful applicants and all GPAs, GP Mentors and Practice Managers are encouraged to attend. 
 
We have 60 places across the Midlands. Places will be allocated to ensure a fair spread across the region. An application form should be completed and submitted to alliance.hub1@nhs.net by no later than 02/11/2020 
 
What is the cost? 
 
There is no charge for participating in this programme. On completion of the GPA Certificate, the practice will be eligible for a £1,700 training grant (per candidate) in recognition of the time given to support learners in achieving their competencies. 
 
Want to learn more? 
 
Watch how one GP practice in the North West has developed a new GPA role, transforming the way they work and practice: 
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