150,015 members

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Network navigation

Introduction to 4 Develop the team

Up to 4. Develop the team
June 15. 2016
Robert Varnam

What is this?

Growing numbers of practices are looking at broadening their workforce, to reduce demand for GP time and connect the patient more directly with the most appropriate professional. This may include training a senior nurse to provide a minor illness service, employing a community pharmacist or providing direct access to physiotherapy, counselling or welfare rights advice.

Download fact sheet

Benefits for patients

  • Improves appointment availability. 
  • Reduces low-value consultations and onward referrals. 
  • Shorter wait to get to see the most appropriate person.

Benefits for practice

  • Frees up GP time. 
  • Makes more appropriate use of each team member's skills. 
  • Reduces internal referrals. 
  • Improved job satisfaction for administrative staff undertaking enhanced roles.


4.1 Minor illness nurses

A nurse with additional training in diagnosis, management and prescribing, provides a service for people with minor ailments. Patients are directed to the service by an active front end, such as a mobile app, online portal or a triage protocol operated by receptionists. This ensures that only clinically appropriate problems are seen in the minor ailments service.

4.2 Practice pharmacists

A pharmacist works in the practice as an integral part of the team. They may perform a wide range of duties, including service audit and improvement, longterm condition medications management, discharge medication reconciliation, medicines use reviews and minor ailments clinics. Additional training in diagnosis, management and prescribing may be necessary for some of these.

4.3 Direct access therapists

The practice has access to book patients directly into appointments with a physiotherapist or mental health practitioner for patients presenting with a defined range of problems. This avoids delays created by a referral system and, with an appropriate Active signposting, can also avoid the need for a GP consultation, with triage by the online system or receptionist.

4.4 Physician associates

Graduates with a science degree undertake a two year training programme to develop skills in diagnosis, investigation and clinical management. Physician associates then work under the direct supervision of a doctor.

4.5 Medical assistants

A member of clerical staff in the practice is given additional training and relevant protocols in order to support the GP in clinical administration tasks. These may include tasks such as processing incoming hospital correspondence, ordering tests, chasing results and outpatient referrals, liaising with other providers and explaining care processes to patients. In some practices, the medical assistant works very closely with the GP, sitting alongside them during telephone clinics.

Download quick facts sheet on medical assistants

4.6 Paramedics

An emergency practitioner is attached to a practice or group of practices. They undertake urgent home visits, supported by full access to the GP record and rapid access to the patient's practice in order to discuss cases with a GP. They may also be involved in seeing patients with acute illness attending the practice, including those with minor injuries.

Powered by Ploneboard