The role of General Practice Assistant (GPA) 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 and making best use of consultation time.

Following a successful pilot of the GPA role in the Northwest, a national programme was established in 2019 to support the spread and adoption of the GPA role across the country, providing a consistent approach to developing the role, underpinned by a defined job description and competency framework to support work-based learning.

GPAs are trained to provide a support role, carrying out administrative tasks with basic clinical duties, helping to free up GP time and contribute to the smooth running of appointments, and improving patients’ experience in the surgery. By 2021, over 350 GPAs had successfully completed the programme. Early evidence and feedback from GP practices suggested that effective adoption of this role can support in:

  • Improving patient access and releasing highly qualified staff to concentrate on treating and managing patients with more complex conditions.
  • Improving 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.
  • Have a positive impact on retention and job satisfaction.
  • Reduce time spent by GPs on managing clinical and non-clinical correspondence.

Places have now been released and we intend on having 3 intakes throughout the year (see below for dates). With the first starting on 2nd September 2024. We ask that only those who are serious about completing the framework and who are supported fully by their practice, apply.

  • 1st intake – 2nd September 2024 (Closing date for applications 19th August 2024)
  • 2nd intake – 2nd December 2024 (Closing date for applications 18th November 2024)
  • 3rd intake – 3rd March 2025 (Closing date for applications 17th February 2025)

What is the GPA role?

The General Practice Assistant (GPA) is now an established national role which was created to relieve some of the admin burden from doctors within General Practice. After the successful pilots across the Northeast, Cumbria, and Yorkshire, we are now on our fifth year and National Health Service England has further commissioned a fantastic 156 places for 2024/25 which is double the previous year.

GPAs support doctors in the smooth running of their surgery by handling the routine administration and some basic clinical duties enabling the doctor to focus on the patient.

As a GPA you will be trained to help with:

  • Sorting all clinical mail and prioritising
  • Extracting all information from clinical letters that needs coding
  • Dealing with all routine clinical mail 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

How is the GPA framework delivered?

The GPA framework is an experiential course that is led by a GP at the practice. The GP will work through the competencies within the framework with the GPA, and the GPA will write up evidence gained to show competent and understanding, for them to mark and sign off. The GP may return with comments and feedback, this is normal and gives the GPA an opportunity to improve submitted work.

Sysco will provide the GPA and any assigned mentors with logins to an online facility called the Learning Assistant platform where the competency framework is located, and the GPA will upload written work and evidence to this portal. The GP mentor will use their login to regularly mark the work uploaded and can manually set notifications to create regular checks to review work. We will have sight of the GPAs progress throughout the programme as we have a login to the platform also. We will provide monthly progress reports to keep the GPA and the practice updated, highlight any concerns, and keep momentum.

You will need to dedicate one full day a week to the programme. Half a day working through the competencies, writing up your work, uploading and cross referencing your evidence onto your portfolio, and half a day gaining firsthand experience with your GP mentor/secondary mentor/nurse/secretary etc. You may find your GP mentor will second you to the practice nurse or others in the team to help you train in areas relating to simple clinical duties, such as blood pressures but the GP mentor will be responsible for signing you off as competent. This can take time and we recommend that this is done regularly and not left to the end of the framework. We would expect work to be reviewed frequently, so timings are important. We will offer an element of funding to the practice for this mentor/marking time.

You will need to be supported by a GP who will be your mentor. Assuming you meet the entry requirements (detailed below) your GP mentor can put you forward for the GPA Certificate. GPs, Practice Managers and Nurses have created the framework, with the aim to support a standardised approach to practices upskilling their team.

What funding is available?

This is a NSHE fully funded project. The practice will be eligible for £2120 in total; £1,700 per applicant, to cover backfill for the learner doing 1 day a week of study/training for 6 months and, in recognition of the clinical time given to support learners there is a further training grant of £420. This funding may also be used to contribute towards any training outlay, such as phlebotomy, you may decide to undertake. 50% of the funding will be paid to the practice on receipt of application form/DBS etc, receipt of signed MOU, completion of the pre-evaluation survey and confirmation of uploaded evidence. The remaining 50% will be paid on successful completion of the GPA programme and post evaluation survey.

How to Apply

Please contact wy.traininghub@nhs.net if you have any questions about the programme or to register your interest, alternatively you can complete the application form below.

Trainee GPAs will be required to build a portfolio of evidence to support competency development under the direction of a GP mentor (and supporting secondary mentor).

Currently there are two options available to Practices/PCNs for the trainee GPA:

  1. Train in-house via the framework (not accredited – either Clinical or non-Clinical route).
  2. Train in-house via the accredited framework as a clinical GPA.

Please send the completed application form to wy.traininghub@nhs.net

Please find the electronic Application Form here.

On the closing date, if not before, applications will be reviewed for consideration. The aim of this programme is to support the spread and adoption of this role so initially, priority will be given to ensure places are shared equally across all ICB areas within the Northeast, Cumbria & Yorkshire. In addition, priority will be given to applicants who are already within a GPA role, an ARRS funded role and those who have started collecting evidence towards their e-portfolio. The learner, workplace and support should be fully aware of the framework requirements, and candidates can be put forward by the GP who will be mentoring them and the Practice Manager. The GP mentor will be required to provide a CV for the awarding body verification requirements, this is required at the time of applying.

The applicant must have a named GP mentor who will be responsible for supporting them through their competencies. Should a GP mentor not be able to guarantee regular tutorials then this framework is not achievable. In addition, the applicant can also appoint a secondary mentor to support them and the GP mentor throughout the course. The GPA needs to have a valid enhanced DBS check in place, if this was issued over 3 years ago, a new check will be required.

We expect learners to have completed the programme in 6 months (Full time trainee GPA).

The closing date for this cohort is 19th August 2024. We will email successful applicants, their GP mentors and practice managers to confirm the place on the programme. Login details will then be emailed out to applicants and mentors, and we expect everyone to have logged on to the Learning Assistant and have started the framework, week commencing 2nd September 2024.

As part of the confirmation email to advise you have been successful in securing a place on the programme, you will receive a link to join a webinar, which will explain a bit more about the programme and have a short demonstration of the Learning Assist platform. Please note there is no other welcome/induction session. Any questions are welcome, but you are encouraged to fully read the documents provided with the login details prior to starting, so you are up to date with the programme and framework.

Priority will be given to geographical areas and meeting entry requirements as stated above. We may phone you to discuss your individual applications so it is important that you provide us with a contactable mobile number, however, you will be informed via email if you have been successful in securing a place.

Useful Resources

  • Please find the GPA Competency Framework here
  • Please find advice on building the portfolio of evidence here
  • Please find guidance on completion timelines here
  • Please find the Trainee GPA Handbook here
  • Please find the GP Mentor Handbook here
  • Please find an example GPA Job Description here
  • Please find FAQs here

GPA and Immunisations

The GPA programme/framework does not cover immunisations, but the general practice/PCN may suggest the GPA observe a registered health professional carrying out immunisations to gain further knowledge and understanding. In line with Public Health England’s recommendations, only HSWs who have achieved education and training to Level Three (Qualifications Credit Framework) with at least 2 years’ experience should be considered for training in vaccine administration. Therefore, if the member of staff does not already have this experience, after GPA programme completion and attaining a further two years of experience in the clinical GPA role, the employer (e.g., general practice or PCN) may wish to consider further developing and training clinical GPAs in vaccine administration. Please find further information here.

A HCSW who administers immunisations must have completed relevant training and have been assessed as competent by a registered practitioner who is experienced in immunisation – mentorship, close supervision, and support strategies are essential.

What does a working day look like for a GPA?

This will be up to the practice how the day is planned.  You may already have systems in place to deal with certain pieces of work and may just want to fill in the gaps. Alternatively, you may want a complete a system change practice wide. The choice is yours. The GPA Framework will provide applicants with the tools to offer a variety of services to support the GP.

Watch how one General Practice in the Northwest developed a new GPA role in the early stages, transforming the way they work and practice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-GVx4dcRPw&feature=youtu.be

FAQs

  • We do not provide a GPA; we do not pay their salary, and this is not an employment scheme. This is a programme which provides a framework for you to upskill an existing member of your team to become a GPA.
  • There are no external courses/workshops/training provided. The learning is experiential. We provide resources for you to tap into as a mentor to work through with your learner and provide the framework to meet the competencies to become a GPA. In addition, we provide up-to-date guidance, legislation, and tutorial content where appropriate.
  • The programme can be completed within practice. The learner will login to a web-based portal which houses the framework. They will submit evidence which supports their understanding.
  • The mentor must provide time to support the learner and the practice must be supportive in planning in time for the learner to progress on the programme. The GP mentor needs to dedicate time to work through the modules and teach the learner. This can be outsourced to other members of the team such as Practice Nurse for certain clinical areas or the Practice Manager for certain admin areas for example. Remember though, the GP mentor and secondary mentor will be logging onto the portal and marking the learner as competent, so they need to be suitably assured.
  • The course needs to be completed within 6 months. It is important that you plan to start the programme as soon as you receive your login details. 6 months is achievable to get through all the modules.
  • The learner and the mentor need to have protected time. We recommend 1 day a week where possible for the learner – ½ a day teaching/shadowing/practical and ½ day where the learner writes and uploads their evidence. This day does not have to be at the same time, it can be split to suit practice needs, for example ½ a day on a Monday afternoon shadowing a nurse in clinic and ½ a day on a Wednesday morning writing reports and uploading evidence. Please do not put an applicant forward if you cannot afford them this time or are unable to mentor.
  • Both the learner and the mentor need to be relatively proficient with IT. Both the learner and the mentor will be provided with a username and a password to access the Sysco Portal. You will also be provided with a user guide, which will show you how to log on, access the programme content, access where to upload evidence and where the mentors access their learners work for marking as competent.
  • Support is available. Both the PCWYTH, (Training Hub) and Sysco, (the Learning Assist team), have a dedicated email address for programme content queries and any issues you may have.
  • All modules must be completed. Even if a learner is an existing HCA and has completed certain elements of the course previously, they still need to upload their evidence to demonstrate this. Of course, there may not be any need for the learner to be mentored in this area if they already have a good understanding and they can go straight to uploading their statement of understanding.

Additionally, there may be some modules that you do not plan to utilise in your practice, however, these will need to be completed in full to pass the entire programme.