Brant, Catherine and Leydon, Geraldine M.
The role of the health-care assistant in general practice
British Journal of Nursing, 18, (15), .
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The role of the health-care assistant (HCA) has developed rapidly in general practice and has occurred on an ad hoc basis across the UK, with the precise role shaped by the requirements and culture of individual practices. Currently, there is no regulation of HCAs and little published material about the remit of the role. This study aimed to describe general practice colleagues' perceptions of the HCA role; identify key areas of inter-professional agreement and disagreement about the role; and describe the likely impact of these on the direction and development of HCAs. The study used a multiple-method qualitative study, using focus groups and semi-structured interviews and was set in general practices across one primary care trust. It featured uni-professional focus groups of practice nurses, HCAs and practice managers and interviews with GPs and practice managers. Transcribed material was analysed using constant comparison to derive robust themes. Participants focused on issues surrounding communication and teamwork and the fact that the individual nature of practices will affect the development of the HCA role. Questions regarding the development and structure of the HCA role were also broadly debated. The study concluded that the development of the HCA role in general practice is variable and the success of the role within a practice depends on good preparation for its future direction as well as the broad inclusion of team members in discussion and decision-making about the role
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