Staff Training: Why It’s A No-Brainer for Every Practice

Day in, day out, me and my team are out training and chatting to GP practice teams across the country. As a GP myself, I’m no stranger to the fast-moving world of general practice.

To say we encounter a phenomenal mountain of work on a daily basis is an understatement!

Everyone feels the pressure.

And it’s practice staff on the frontline that often bear the brunt of frustration from patients and the constant need to be able to respond swiftly to requests.

So just thinking about the sheer workload you’ve faced as a practice since the New Year, can you be sure that your staff have received the training they need to support them in their roles right now?

If your practice manages to tick along every day, it’s easy to assume that you don’t need to think about training (“not this month, Matt – our new receptionist is a whizz with the patients” I heard the other day). However, investing in your staff by providing ongoing training could make a surprising, sustainable difference.

If you’re already running ongoing training, I’m preaching to the converted, but here are a few of the reasons why I’ve found staff training as a GP is so essential for the practice teams I work with:

Protecting Staff

Stress can be a big problem for all employees working within the NHS, and research suggests that many are considering leaving their role as a result.

While you can’t do much to summon up surplus resources out of thin air, there are some steps you can take to make the most of what you have. Training helps staff to maximise the skills and knowledge available collectively as a team and to be more effective with the time at their disposal. This creates a positive cycle where staff become more efficient and feel less stressed as a result, which in turn improves efficiency further – and so on.

With rising workloads and unrelenting pressure, it’s important that our frontline staff feel valued and appreciated. By taking the time to invest in their personal development, you will not only help to improve practice efficiency, but morale will improve as well.

Future-Proof Your Practice

Balancing the books can be difficult for GP practices and this means that no-one has lots of spare staff floating around. If someone leaves, it can leave an instant and sometimes painful long gap in frontline services. Struggling to train someone new while maintaining business as usual can be almost impossible.

Cross-training staff isn’t just good for personal development, it’s also beneficial for the practice. By having multiple people within the practice trained across various roles, it means you won’t have a sudden gap in the event of long-term illness or resignation.

Training isn’t just about sideways movement either; it also provides the opportunity for proactive succession planning. By preparing individuals for promotion, you will be future-proofing your practice across the board.

Keeping Up with Industry Standards

Even though your staff might be doing a stellar job and delivering an excellent service, there’s still a need to keep up with changes in the industry and the wider NHS.

Training can help your staff to keep up with industry best practice and also stay abreast of regulatory updates. Whether it’s training frontline staff on areas such as GDPR or updating practice managers on changes to employment law, it’s essential that everyone is up to date on the crucial knowledge within their role.

Delivering A Service That Stands Out

No-one is doubting that your staff do their absolute best, but providing them with a diverse range of training can help them to provide a service that really stands out in the community.

Many practices focus on the practical elements, such as customer service or how to operate the phones, but don’t provide staff with training on the soft skills. Whether that’s time management to handle the plethora of emails in our inbox or people skills, taking a more rounded approach to include all the different areas of training could make the service something very special indeed.

Not sure where to start first? In my experience, if you ask your team, they’ll quickly tell you where the gaps are.

Ready for a Bespoke Approach?

Every practice will have different training needs depending on the level of experience of the staff, and their existing skills. Here at Orr Medical Training, we can help to design the right training package for your practice, helping to ease the burden and boost morale all around.

Get in touch today for a no-obligation discussion.

How Upskilling Staff Can Help Relieve Practice Pressure

General practice management; it’s a constant balancing act for many with the clinical requirements and needs of caring for patients against non-clinical administration and business models.

A recent report on primary care in the NHS from Cogora found that the morale of all staff within the NHS is at a six year low and a large proportion of NHS workers are feeling overworked and under-appreciated.

Add to this fears over Brexit which, according to Cogora, more than 75% of NHS workers believe will have a negative impact on clinical staff, especially nurses.

So what can we do as practice managers or partners to help our teams feel safe, supported and empowered?

– What can we do to help our clinicians focus on care that we might not already be doing?
– And what can we do differently to utilise the unique skills of our receptionist and admin teams in order to keep care organised and flowing smoothly?

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen first-hand the enormous benefits of upskilling your admin teams to take on clinical document processing through our popular course. Here’s what we’ve found:

Diversify admin staff roles

The role your backroom administration staff takes on varies, but rarely involves anything related to the clinical side of the business with the clinical staff usually having to deal with their own admin along with trying to juggle caseloads.

However, admin staff are extremely skilled at administration, so they are a brilliant resource to use to take the pressure off the clinical staff like doctors, healthcare assistants and nurses. This allows the clinical staff to focus entirely on dealing with their patients, rather than worrying about admin.

Naturally some admin will need to be dealt with by the clinicians due to the nature of their role, but a large amount could become the responsibility of non-clinical admin staff. It is estimated almost 90% of a GP’s correspondence can be managed successfully by admin staff with appropriate training.

This correspondence – clinic letters, discharge summaries, screening results etc– is time consuming for clinicians to deal with and can take up valuable time which would serve the practice better if it were patient-facing rather than tapping away at a computer.

Make your practice more efficient

Clinical document processing was a key way to release time for care in NHS England’s ten ‘High Impact Actions’, designed to make General Practice more efficient and the use of primary care providers more valuable to their practices.

Since 2016, there has been funding provided by NHS England to CCGs throughout the country to give as many practices as possible access to this kind of training.

The Orr Medical Training team has been delivering this course since 2017 and has often been called in by practices where other clinical document processing training has left them with no clear direction how to get started with the process.

Our training helps to drastically reduces the time clinical staff spend on documentation, with the amount of admin requiring the attention of a GP being reduced by up to 80% in many cases. In real terms, this means that a single GP could free up almost 45 minutes of time per day – the time for at least a handful of appointments in many practices.

Improve staff morale

Upskilling backroom staff is a great way to improve the morale of backroom staff by demonstrating your confidence in their ability to handle these extra responsibilities.

Handling clinical documents isn’t too different from their normal day to day duties in practice, but giving them the skills and extra training required will make them feel empowered and improve their morale.

This in turn will have a positive impact on the customer service of the practice, leading to a more efficient workforce, happier patients, and staff that are confident in their role. Extra training and increased responsibilities also provide progression opportunities for members of staff, which will help them map out their careers and give them something to work towards and achieve.

Along with improving the roles of the non-clinical staff, implementing this kind of measure will also help clinical staff regain control of their workloads as they will only have to concern themselves with correspondence that needs their attention, rather than every piece of clinical correspondence.

If you’re yet to see the benefits of clinical document processing within your practice, why not get in touch to learn more about our practical training sessions.