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PCNs to recruit 1,000 GP assistants and 1,250 digital leads

PCNs to recruit 1,000 GP assistants and 1,250 digital leads

PCNs can now recruit 1,000 GP assistants and 1,250 digital transformation leads ahead of the winter, NHS England has said.

NHS England recently announced that the two new roles would be added to the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) this month.

But it today announced that this would amount to ‘more than 1,000’ GP assistants and ‘up to 1,250’ digital transformation leads.

This equates to approximately one of each role in each PCN.

NHS England said that the new staff would mean GPs’ ‘time can be freed up to see more patients during winter’.

And it revealed more details on the tasks the roles would encompass.

It said: ‘GP assistants will be trained to do blood pressure checks, heart rate and blood tests as well as arranging appointments, referrals and follow up care for patients.’

They will also ‘offer more admin support with the roles already proven to reduce the time GPs spend on tasks such as writing letters by more than two-fifths’, it added.

According to reporting in the Mail Online, GP assistants will also deliver jabs, explain treatments and act as a ‘middleman’ with other health and care providers – and may also take ‘brief medical histories before patients see their GP’.

Meanwhile, the new digital leads will ‘make sure practices are using the latest technology to offer more telephone lines, monitor their call response times or offer support with the NHS app which, from November, will help patients review their test results’, NHS England said.

National director of primary and community care Dr Amanda Doyle said: Giving patients timely and convenient access to GPs and primary care is vital, especially during winter, which is why we are introducing brand new roles and giving GPs more flexibility to create teams that best meet the needs of their local population.

‘NHS staff have worked incredibly hard to deliver record numbers of GP appointments for patients, with 11 million more this year so far than the same period last year, and more than four in five people who book an appointment seen within two weeks, including two fifths who are seen on the same day.’

She added: ‘The introduction of GP assistants can reduce the time doctors spend on correspondence by up to 85%, while also carrying out basic clinical tasks such as taking patients’ blood pressure and heart rate, meaning doctors have more time to do what they care about most – treating patients – while digital leads will help practices use the latest technology to manage demand and capacity.’

NHS England said the move comes as GPs ‘are experiencing record demand’ and studies show that ‘more than a quarter of appointments could be carried out by other professionals, replaced by self-care, or were not needed at all’. 

It also confirmed that the number of advanced practitioners (APs) working in PCNs will be doubled to ‘up to 2,500’ in England and reiterated that it is ‘simplifying funding arrangements so nursing associates can train to become registered nurses in general practice’.

The new roles were first announced as part of the health secretary’s plan to improve access to GP practices, which also included two-week GP appointment targets and the new publication of practice-level appointment data.

Pulse previously reported that GP assistants can be trained in practice, with on-the-job development led by GPs alongside access to HEE’s accredited training route.

The role will be subject to maximum reimbursement equivalent of an Agenda for Change band 4 level, which ranges from £23,949 to £26,282 depending on experience.

Digital transformation leads, capped at one per PCN, will have a maximum reimbursement rate equivalent to the Agenda for Change band 8a, ranging from £48,526 to £54,619.

Pulse revealed in July that up to 40% of funding available for hiring additional roles staff was unspent in each of the first two years of the scheme.

And a large study found that employing healthcare workers other than GPs or nurses leads to a drop in patient satisfaction.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 6 October, 2022 11:45 am

The digital leads “they” require to ultimate hack and destroy you.

Michael Mullineux 6 October, 2022 12:09 pm

Incomprehensible nonsense – taking a history twice, BP and Pulse hardly time consuming, reminds of dual examination cubicle days where 2 staff did the job of 1 and plenty of time was spent drinking tea and chatting. And it does not change the fundamental problem of GP capacity being beyond threshold.

Julia Visick 6 October, 2022 12:11 pm

They have obviously never recruited or employed anyone themselves – advertise, interview – recruits give their notice… so yes in about 3-6 months this may happen… just when I hope to see a Crocus pop up in early Spring…. Too little too late and today yet more they want us to do …. I am saying no.

Julian Spinks 6 October, 2022 12:19 pm

Thank goodness I have a magic employee tree in the practice garden and GP assistants are ripe for picking in the autumn.
PS. Do ‘digital leads’ do all the rectal exams?

Michael Mullineux 6 October, 2022 12:28 pm

1 of each per PCN of 30-50,000 patients. Really? What an absolutely pointless shower

Darren Tymens 6 October, 2022 12:43 pm

1, 1000 GP assistants means one per roughly 7 practices = zero impact.
2. 1250 digital leads means one per roughly 6 practices. They will be occupied full-time dealing with the complaints and problems that come from opening up the full patient record as of 1st november (as will all of us).

David jenkins 6 October, 2022 1:29 pm

how does recruiting a whole bunch of baggage handlers help the plane take off ?

Bonglim Bong 6 October, 2022 1:29 pm

The digital leads are somewhat of a trojan horse.

From next year they will have almost all of their time taken up with added duties of reporting data to be used in comparative tablets.

Patrufini Duffy 6 October, 2022 2:29 pm

100% Bong – your own trojan “staff” doing you over. Press submit.

Not on your nelly 6 October, 2022 3:51 pm

Why can’t i just use the money to employ some HCAs and admin? The wheel does not need to be reinvented.

Turn out The Lights 6 October, 2022 3:52 pm

Enough non jobs at the ics level ,we dont need them creating on the front line.ARRS more like Arse.

Lloyd Clever 6 October, 2022 4:47 pm

We need more GPs.

Nick Mann 6 October, 2022 5:18 pm

Nice soundbites. What is ‘a GP assistant’? Which GPs have the time to train or supervise them? Who decided that duplication of process saves time (research suggests it doesn’t)? One per 30,000 per 50,000 is a drop in the ocean, likely to use more resources than save them.
Increase core funding, remove restrictions on how it is spent, and cancel pay for performance requirements. Nothing less.

Hot Felon 6 October, 2022 5:21 pm

Before retiring I worked with a ‘physician assistant’.
Absolutely useless, they couldn’t prescribe so sent me multiple tasks to send their scripts as well as mine.
Asked me to double check their clinical entries while I was doing my own massively overfilled clinic.
Funding is made available for these people who are foisted on us without any consultation and are the brainchild of idiotic government policy, where it is assumed ‘anyone’ vaguely medical (nurses, paramedics and so on) can do a course and become a GP.
The ‘dumbing down’ / ‘reductive’ approach to General Practice administered by 35 yr old history graduates in NHSE.
You couldn’t make it up.

Truth Finder 7 October, 2022 4:03 pm

It won’t help. They will just dump it on the GP, bring them back to see the GP and order tons of useless tests for the GP to clear up. Get a GP if you need one not these.