alexa Abstract | Administration and clerical staff perceptions and experiences of protected learning time:a focus group study

Quality in Primary Care
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Research Paper Open Access


Background Protected learning time (PLT) has become an established method of learning for many primary care teams in the UK. Considerable resources are used to provide protected time for practice teams to allow them to learn. There is little published evidence on how administration and clerical (A&C) staff learn within primary care generally and within PLT schemes in particular. The aim of the research was to explore A&C staff perceptions and experiences of PLT.Method A qualitative community based study using three focus groups of A&C staff from semiurban and rural general medical practices within three local healthcare co-operatives (LHCCs) in NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland was  undertaken.Results A&C staff perceived that PLT was of benefit to them, and gave examples of how the team had learned from each other and from neighbouring teams. They wanted to use PLT more effectively,and wanted time that was focused on learning needs, relevant to their work. They wanted to learn more about their own team and its members, and how other local teams worked, as well as the wider workings of the NHS. They expressed concerns about not being listened to, and felt that their needs were low in the priorities of the practice and the LHCC. They felt that PLT generally resulted in increased workload on the following day when they had to cope with the backlog of tasks generatedin their absence during the PLT session. Some reported that they spent, or would prefer to spend,the PLT session working rather than learning. Conclusion PLT needs to offer quality educational experiences. This could be achieved by following the learning process, i.e. learning needs assessment followed by designing and delivering appropriateeducational methods and activities. Evaluation of this process is essential. The learning needs assessment should extend to A&C staff and not just clinical staff. This is a challenge as A&C staff have many varied roles within primary care. A&C staff are requesting greater consideration and involvement in team activities and want help to set theirindividual workin the context of overall practice and NHS activity.

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Author(s): David Cunningham


Innovative primary care, Primary care medicines, Advanced concepts in primary care

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