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New admin role mooted for HCAs to support practice nurses

  • 4 Comments

Healthcare assistants could in the future play a bigger part in supporting practice nurses and doctors with administrative work, under national plans to pilot a new role in general practice.

Workforce planning body Health Education England is looking at creating the role – called a medical assistant – to reduce the “administrative burden” on clinicians in general practice and ensure they have more time to spend with patients.

“We are developing new roles, such as medical assistants, to determine whether such roles might reduce the administrative burden placed upon GPs and nurses”

HEE response to PCWC report

Medical assistants were first suggested by the Primary Care Workforce Commission – chaired by Martin Roland, professor of health services research at University of Cambridge – which reported in the summer on future models of care.

It said the role had been used in other countries, such as the US, to relieve healthcare professionals of most email and electronic tasks.

The workforce planning body’s response to the commission – seen by Nursing Times – said: “HEE agrees that the administrative pressures placed upon general practitioners and nurses is a barrier to their efficiency and their focus on provision of high quality clinical care.”

“As such, we are developing and evaluating new roles and ways of working to help combat this issue, and will be piloting new roles, such as medical assistants, in collaboration with Royal College of GPs and other partners in order to determine whether such roles might reduce the administrative burden placed upon GPs and nurses,” it added.

At an HEE board meeting last week, the body’s director of education and quality Wendy Reid suggested healthcare assistants could in the future take on this new role.

“I think there is an existing workforce there [for medical assistants]. The care certificate is a route into that workforce”

Wendy Reid

She said HEE was working closely with GPs to understand what competencies were required.

Ms Reid suggested the skills required could be in addition to the care certificate for HCAs, which was introduced in April. The certificate sets out standards for HCA training but is not mandatory.

“There’s a big piece of work to be done there [around medical assistants] and we started that work at the RCGP, because we fundamentally think this is about GPs defining what is needed,” she said.

She added: “I think there is an existing workforce there. The care certificate is a route into that workforce.

“We may well be looking at a ‘care certificate plus’ with this particular group,” she said.

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • michael stone

    This seems to supply an answer to a question posed in another recent piece, about recruiting/training more young people to fill the HCA role:

    'Ms Reid suggested the skills required could be in addition to the care certificate for HCAs, which was introduced in April. The certificate sets out standards for HCA training but is NOT mandatory.'

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  • Michael stone
    what would you suggest this care certificate plus would outline I would like to know including the mandatory training please?
    What would the job role be called then.
    Thankyou.

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  • They really are determined to replace us...or at the very least water us down and downgrade our skills to tasks....I remember when patients felt hard done to if they couldn't see the GP and had to make do with the 'Nurse'...now will have to convince them to be grateful to see anyone really...I am not being a hooting dinosaur nothing wrong with a team approach etc...but it isn't that is it....lets not kid ourselves

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 27-Oct-2015 4:13 pm

    I don't know, what 'foundation competencies' HCAs should possess - my comment above, was in response to a comment another poster made to a different NT piece a few days ago.

    Personally, I think that HCAs should be able to build up a sort of 'portfolio' of recognised skills (which would involve training and assessment by their employing organisation, but which would ALSO have 'national acceptance' [so, some sort of 'agreed standard' for each skill]) which would vary from HCA to HCA.

    So an HCA would build up a 'portfolio' (I think of it rather like the log-book pilots keep, which records which type of aircraft they have flown) of accepted skills, which other future employers 'would accept'.

    But the skills you built up, would vary with your job and/or ambitions: so 'able to take blood samples', 'able to assess blood sugar levels', 'able to take blood pressure readings', etc, etc, would be the sort of thing I consider HCAs should be able to 'prove competence in'.

    It isn't for me, to suggest the details: the nitty-gritty, depends on the role(s) of HCAs in different organisations, etc, but I think that would be useful - proof for an individual HCA of 'what I can do' and also proof for employers and 'supervising nurses' of what an HCA should be competent to do.

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