Funding boost for new GP Assistants

Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) has been successful in its bid for £100,000 to lead the roll out of General Practice Assistants across the area.

The year-long pilot will train 40 GP Assistants in Norfolk and Waveney, who will provide high level non-clinical support to GP practices and reduce the administrative burden on clinical professionals.

Recruiting more administration staff is part of Norfolk and Waveney STP’s primary care workforce strategy and through our work we have already identified that we will need an additional 120 admin staff over the next five years.

The GP Assistants programme is funded by Health Education England and will be led by Norfolk and Waveney’s five GP Provider organisations; OneNorwich; North Norfolk Primary Care; South Norfolk Healthcare; West Norfolk Health and Coastal Health.

The programme will also involve working with key partners in the East of England, such as primary care networks, Clinical Commissioning Groups and training hubs, to support the spread of the GP Assistant role across the region.

Norfolk and Waveney STP will be one of seven ‘lead’ Primary Care Training Hubs across the country.

The GP Assistant role will include:

• Acting as a focal point for patient/carer enquiries
• Providing an in-depth understanding of health demographics and the cultural needs of patient groups
• Signposting patients to the most appropriate services where the GP surgery may not be the best option
• Where appropriate, acting on test results in line with local policy and procedures
• Managing referrals and prescriptions
• Sorting clinical post and prioritising directly
• Taking accurate minutes of complex and sensitive meetings
• Transcribing and preparing medical reports
• Using patient related electronic systems

Tracey Bullard, Head of Transformation at the GP alliance OneNorwich, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting and leading on this new and very exciting GP Assistant role for Primary Care. The role will be a very welcome enhanced addition to an ever busy and changing workforce and practice environment.”

Dr Emma Brandon, a GP at Paston Surgery in North Walsham and Chair of the Norfolk and Waveney STP Training Hub, said: “This is really exciting news. We know from earlier pilot projects that GP Assistants can help relieve pressure on busy GPs by helping to reduce the burden of clinical correspondence and day to day tasks. We are delighted to have been chosen as the only area in the Eastern region to pilot this scheme and look forward to welcoming the GP Assistants in our practices.”

Kirstie Baxter, Head of Workforce Transformation, Health Education England, said: “Health Education England is supporting local Primary Care Training Hubs with the introduction and spread of General Practice Assistants. General Practice Assistants will be great additions to GP teams, easing the administrative workload, releasing highly-qualified staff to concentrate on patients with complex conditions, and improving patients’ experience. We are looking forward to supporting Norfolk and Waveney Training Hub as they host and co-ordinate this exciting development in the East of England as part of our wider Workforce Transformation programme.”