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Rapid response to:

Opinion Dissecting Health

Scarlett McNally: My trust has shown how doctors’ assistants can help support clinicians

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.q19 (Published 10 January 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;384:q19

Rapid Response:

We need to reduce administrative workload for better GP recruitment: A Medical Student's Perspective

Dear Editor,

The NHS is facing challenges with increasing workload, burnout and accessibility issues, negatively impacting clinicians’ abilities and time to deliver efficient healthcare. Clinicians and managers are actively exploring strategies to improve access and patient care.

The Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme has introduced a role of a Doctors Assistant (DA), known as General Practice Assistant (GPA) in primary care, trained under the guidance and supervision of GPs.1

Adopting the GPA role can enhance patient access and alleviate the administrative burden on GPs, including time spent on referrals, ordering investigations, organising transport, and liaising with external organisations. Following appropriate training and supervision, GPAs can also conduct minor clinical investigations such as urine dipstick and measuring vital signs. This enables experienced clinicians to dedicate their time to patients presenting with complex comorbidities.

The author is optimistic that DAs can increase productivity by 30%. Similarly, another study has demonstrated that DAs in primary care have reduced administrative workload by 30%.2

The GPA role should be implemented nationally, with supervision from healthcare professionals, to adapt to evolving patient needs. This can improve job satisfaction and retention among doctors, whilst diversifying the multidisciplinary team.

Concerns about workload and burnout have left some medical students considering working abroad or alternative career options. Effective strategies are urgently needed to promote GP as an attractive career. The introduction of GPAs is a step in the right direction.

References:
1. General practice assistant [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 4]. Available from: https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/general-practice-assistant/
2. Jothimurugan P, Rao N, Shridhar S, Williams H, Jothimurugan S, Aggarwal A. The role of doctors’ assistants in reducing GP administrative workload at Maylands Healthcare [Internet]. British Journal of General Practice; 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 4]. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp23X734085

Competing interests: I presented a poster titled "The role of Doctors’ Assistants in reducing GP administrative workload at Maylands Healthcare" at the BJGP Conference 2023, and I have referenced my abstract in this letter.

11 February 2024
Prithika Jothimurugan
Medical Student
Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Garrod Building, Turner St, London E1 2AD