There are a range of HR activities that can be delegated to the APM once they have found their feet and have had some initial training.
Recruitment and selection
If you are recruiting, ask your APM to write the advert, update the job description and person specification. You can provide them with examples to help them do this.
You could also ask them to look at a fair system for assessing applications and, with support, they could do the first cut of applications and make suggestions for who to interview. Ask them to sit in on interviews - an additional opinion is always useful.
- Why job descriptions are important
- Writing a person specification
- Templates for general practice job descriptions
- Staff recruitment: preparing the selection process
As a general HR task you could ask your APM to review the staff handbook and policies to ensure that they are all up to date.
When a new employee starts, the APM could be responsible for all the admin associated with this. You should have an induction checklist so ask the APM to ensure that all pre- and post-employment checks are completed, give the new member of staff a tour of the building and provide an introduction to the staff handbook and staff policies.
Depending on role, the APM could also be responsible for the initial training of the staff member.
- New employee checklist
- CQC Essentials: Practice induction packs
- CQC Essentials: Who should have DBS checks
- Avoid the pitfalls of employment references
CPD within the practice
Statutory and mandatory training is part of CQC compliance, ask the APM to come up with a process for monitoring completion of this training and chasing those who haven’t completed the training. Ask them to set up a system for capturing all the additional training that happens, keeping copies of certificates etc
How do you assess competence at the practice? Are all staff currently performing as you would like them to, would staff benefit from upskilling in a particular area? What are the practice training needs?
Ask your APM to look at where there may be gaps and investigate possible training options. They could put together an options appraisal with costs of the most pressing training needs.
Are there cost effective ways of supporting staff in their professional development (is there funding available from the CCG or NHS England for training?) Would any of your receptionists be interested in training as HCAs? Or HCAs as nurses? What professional development have other members of staff asked for or might be interested in developing?
Nurse revalidation is now in place, are the systems and processes in your practice working for your nurses that have been revalidated? This might be something that you will want to keep responsibility for, but the APM can certainly help with gathering feedback from any of your nurses who have been through the revalidation process and suggesting ways the system could be improved.
- CQC Essentials: Mandatory training in general practice
- CQC Essentials: Advanced nurse practitioners in primary care
- CQC Essentials: Practice nurses
- Nurse revalidation in GP practices
- CQC Essentials: Nurse revalidation
Annual appraisals and dealing with poor performance
Poor performance is an area that many practice managers struggle with as it is difficult to manage people effectively. It is a good idea to send your APM on recognised external training so that they have a good grounding employment issues and how best to tackle poor performance.
Allow them to shadow some appraisals if the appraisee allows it. If they have direct line management for staff, they should be encouraged to take on these appraisals and follow up on actions generated.
- How to make staff appraisals meaningful
- How to manage staff undeperformance
- ACAS information on managing appraisals and performance
Disciplinary and grievance
Where possible, give your APM as much exposure as possible to disciplinary and grievance procedures. Hopefully disciplinary events should be rare occurrences, so any real life examples are very good training. Again, you may want to consider external training in this area if the APM has direct line management of any staff.
Encourage the APM to have lots of interaction with staff that they supervise or manage so that they can have ‘difficult’ conversations early to prevent small issues becoming big problems.
- Taking disciplinary action against an employee
- How to manage conflict within the team
- Dealing with difficult staff issues
- ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures
Assistant practice manager training plan
- Assistant practice manager training plan 1: Admin, reports and communications
- Assistant practice manager training plan 2: General practice management
- Assistant practice manager training plan 3: Practice finance
Fionnuala O'Donnell is a practice manager in Ealing, West London, and a CCG board member.