A GP is your family doctor and is the main point of contact for general healthcare for NHS patients. All UK residents are entitled to the services of an NHS GP. GPs are highly skilled doctors who support patients throughout their lives. They help you to manage your health and prevent illness and are trained in all aspects of general medicine. This includes child health, mental health, adult medicine, the diagnosis and management of acute medical and surgical problems and the management of long term health conditions such as diabetes and asthma, ophthalmology (eyes), ENT (ear, nose and throat) and dermatology (skin). Many GPs develop ‘special’ interests in specific disease areas. Some also carry out practical procedures such as minor surgery. Further information about GP services can be found on the NHS website.
A GP Registrar or GP trainee is a qualified doctor who is training to become a GP through a period of working and training in a practice. They will usually have spent at least two years working in a hospital before you see them in a practice and are closely supervised by a senior GP or trainer.
Locum or sessional doctors
A locum or sessional doctor is a fully qualified GP who works at the practice on a temporary basis to cover the regular doctors when they are away from the practice.
Advanced Nurse Practitioners
Advanced Nurse Practitioners are Registered Nurses who have done extra training and academic qualifications to be able to examine, assess, make diagnoses, treat, prescribe and make referrals for patients.
Clinical pharmacists work as part of the general practice team to get the best outcomes and value from medicines and consult with and treat patients directly. This includes providing extra help to manage long-term conditions and providing advice for those on multiple medicines.
Paramedic practitioners carry out home visits, as well as assisting with in-practice urgent care clinics, with on-call support from a GP.
Practice nurses are qualified and registered nurses. They can help with health issues such as family planning, healthy living advice, blood pressure checks and dressings. Practice nurses usually run clinics for long-term health conditions such as asthma or diabetes.
Healthcare assistants support practice nurses with their daily work and carry out tasks such as phlebotomy (drawing blood), blood pressure measurement and new patient checks. They may act as a chaperone when a patient or doctor requests one.
The role and responsibilities of a practice manager are varied and are different from practice to practice. Generally, practice managers are involved in managing all of the business aspects of the practice such as making sure that the right systems are in place to provide a high quality of patient care, human resources, finance, patient safety, premises and equipment and information technology. Often receptionists will refer to the practice manager or other senior administrative staff if they cannot help you with your enquiry or if you are upset about something and want to raise a concern. The practice manager is usually the first point of contact for receiving written complaints.
Receptionists and administrative staff
Receptionists provide an important link for patients with the practice and are your initial contact point for general enquiries. They can provide basic information on services and results and direct you to the right person depending on your health issue or query. Receptionists make most of the patient appointments with the GPs and nurses. They also perform other important tasks such as issuing repeat prescriptions and dealing with prescription enquiries and dealing with patient records.