Health Care Roles in our Practice
GPs (General Practitioner)
GP Partners own and run the Practice. They are responsible for decision making and can influence the future direction and ultimate survival of the Practice.
Salaried GPs are employed by the Practice and don't have as much input when it comes to how the Practice is run. However, they still attend clinical meetings to ensure that all patients are receiving the best care possible.
All GPs provide routine health care for complex medical needs or multiple healthcare needs for patients of all ages. They assess and treat all common medical conditions and illnesses, and will refer to hospital for urgent and specialist treatment. GPs are generalists and do not specialise in one particular area of medicine. A typical GP appointment lasts for ten minutes, during which time they make decisions based on the presenting symptoms, and the patient’s current and previous medical history. A large proportion of a doctor’s work, can now be done over the telephone, rather than in face to face encounters and the shift to using different media, such as video consultations, is likely to expand in the future.
PA (Physician Associate)
This is one of the newest clinical roles to assist patients in primary care. They work independently, under the supervision of the GPs, and have undertaken medical training to support the GPs in the diagnosis and management of patients. Like an ANP they will assess and diagnose patients. This role increases capacity in general practice, reduces the workload, and brings new talent to the NHS adding to the skill mix. Currently a PA is not able to legally prescribe or request x-rays and scans in their own rights, but they can ask a GP to sign a prescription or request the necessary tests.
By 2020, the Department of Health wants to see a total of 1,000 physician associates recruited to primary care roles. This is because of the potential they have to address GP shortages.
ANP (Advanced Nurse Practitioners)
ANPs are registered nurses with a prescribing qualification. They are highly experienced and trained medical professionals who undertake comprehensive assessments to diagnose and treat patients of all ages (except babies under the age of one). Their appointments are typically 15 minutes long. This role is evolving in primary care in view of the growing shortage of trained GPs. There is very little that an ANP is not allowed to do according to law; they can independently assess patients, make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment just like a GP. If necessary, ANPs can refer you to see a GP at the Practice. Like a GP, they can also refer you to hospital for specialist treatment, including requesting x-rays and scans. ANPs cannot sign sick notes however they can make arrangements for a GP to sign one for you. They will also carry out home visits to elderly and housebound patients.
Pharmacists working in general practices help resolve prescription-related queries and reduce medicine waste and overuse. They also help with communication about medicine shortages by suggesting more cost effective alternatives. Pharmacists are also responsible for performing annual medication reviews and updating in year changes made by the hospital. Pharmacists will sometimes see patients with common ailments or minor illnesses, and can prescribe if they have undertaken an additional prescribing qualification. Having a pharmacist means that the GPs can focus their skills where they are most needed.
Minor Illness Nurse
This is a registered nurse who has undertaken additional training to assess, diagnose and treat patients with acute minor illness or injury. This type of patient often has a same day need, so this role eases the pressure on GP appointments and prevents unnecessary A&E attendance and hospital admission. A minor illness nurse can prescribe and refer to the hospital for specialist care. They cannot sign sick notes however they can make arrangements for a GP to sign one for you. They will refer you to see the GP if they feel this is necessary.
The triage nurse assesses the medical needs of patients over the telephone to advise of the best course of action. This is normally offered to patients who requests same day access, and where the Practice has no routine available capacity to offer a same day appointment. The triage nurse is based at Trinity Medical Centre but has access to your medical records via the computer. Not all telephone triage appointments result in seeing the GP, but they can arrange this if needed.
A Practice Nurse provides care, treatment and education to patients of all ages. This is usually for patients with long term conditions, i.e. asthma, diabetes, hypertension etc. They also provide a full vaccination and immunisation programme. The Practice Nurse is trained in cytology so will perform smear tests on ladies aged 25 to 65.
HCAs (Health Care Assistant)
HCAs are a vital part of the nursing team. The focus of their supporting role is to help patients manage their health problems, improve their quality of life and free up other health care professional for more specialist work. They are suitably trained and supervised to:
- observe, monitor and record patients' conditions by taking temperatures, bloods, pulse, respirations and weight
- communicate with patients, relatives and carers
- assist with clinical duties and minor ops
- provide personal care including infection prevention and control
- promote positive mental/physical/nutritional health with patients
- check and order supplies
Phlebotomists are trained to take blood samples which are sent to the hospital every day for testing. The last appointment for a blood test is 3:15pm to ensure that this makes the collection service. Patients should contact reception approximately 1 week after their appointment to get the details of their results. Occasionally the results might indicate that you need a routine appointment to see a healthcare professional. Please do not be alarmed about this; this is perfectly normal. These appointments are seldom considered urgent, and therefore patients might have to wait up to a couple of weeks before been seen.
For more detailed information about exactly what each of the above professionals do, please click here.