Calls for funded training and supervision for ARRS staff

The lack of training and supervision for ARRS staff “defies logic” and risks patient safety, says a frontline GP.

Now Dr Lizzie Toberty hopes a motion passed at the conference of England’s local medical committees (LMCs) will see resources made available to properly train and supervise staff hired via the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS).

Putting forward the motion, Dr Toberty, from Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC, spoke about the “rigour, depth, and quality” required for training GPs.

She said: “The job of seeing, assessing and treating undifferentiated illness in the community is hard.

“It requires a very specific set of skills that are unique to primary care.

“It has both baffled and concerned me to observe huge numbers of ARRS staff being allowed to see undifferentiated and sometimes acutely unwell patients with no nationally funded or mandated training.

“We don’t let our GP registrars do it so why are we letting ARRS staff do it?

“We must implement funded training and supervision for new ARRS staff and pause any expansion on access until this is in place.”

Dr Toberty added: “Should ARRS staff be seeing undifferentiated patients? The reality is right now they are.

“This is about patient safety.

“They are not getting the supervision and I’m not even convinced some of them understand basics like two-week wait criteria.

“This motion is about having a pragmatic view and slowing things down.

“We need to slow down, train people properly and evidence what is going on, because once we have that evidence we can work out the future and where we want to go from here.”

The conference voted in favour of asking NHS England to pause the scheme and restructure it.

Speaking after the conference, Dr Toberty, who is also the Doctor Association UK’s (DAUK) GP Lead, said: “Up to this point it has defied logic that new to role ARRS staff have not had funded and mandated supervision.

“It is, and continues to be a risk to patient safety.

“The passing of this motion will hopefully mean the resources in future will be made available to train our staff properly.”