Starting a practice post can be daunting, but practice managers can do their bit to help new staff settle in with an effective and structured induction programme, says MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Catriona James
Staff induction is essential to help your practice run smoothly. An effective programme will ensure new members of the team are informed about practice policies and receive suitable training when they start work so they can carry out their role effectively.
The CQC’s guidance on staffing is clear that induction is just as important as access to ongoing professional development and regular appraisals. It says: ‘Providers must ensure that they have an induction programme that prepares staff for their role.
‘It is expected that providers that employ healthcare assistants and social care support workers should follow the Care Certificate standards to make sure new staff are supported, skilled and assessed as competent to carry out their roles.’
It is therefore worth taking time to review your existing induction programme to ensure it meets the needs of new staff, whether they work in clinical or non-clinical roles. Here are some practicalities to consider:
From receptionists to GPs, every new employee or partner should receive an induction that is appropriate to their role. This applies to temporary as well as permanent staff, including locum doctors covering sick or maternity leave.
It may be possible to have a quicker induction process for temporary staff. However, a locum doctor should still be given time to meet colleagues and familiarise themselves with the practice policies and procedures and local systems before they start to consult with patients.
They should be set up as a separate user on practice computer systems so any entries in the patient records can be accurately identified at a later date if necessary. They should also be given the opportunity to ask questions and have a point of contact if they need guidance while they are working at the practice.
Staff inductions for permanent staff may be done over a longer time period and be more involved, depending on the role. Obviously, there will be some important information to pass on straight away, eg a tour of the practice, health and safety information and dealing with employment documents, but to avoid overwhelming new recruits on their first day, it makes sense to prioritise and carry out the programme over several days or even weeks.
The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has produced useful guidance on inductions, which advises thinking in terms of milestones for new staff such as the first day, first week and first three months. This will help avoid the extremes of bombarding team members with too much information or leaving them to get on with things without enough support.
What to cover
Inductions should be tailored to the role concerned and take account of the new staff member’s level of experience. For example, a receptionist will have different requirements to a new nurse or doctor.
At the same time, there are some areas that should be covered with all staff. These would usually include:
- Meeting colleagues and understanding their role.
- Health and safety – for example, sharps bins, infection control, fire exits, for example.
- Confidentiality/data protection – the serious and binding nature of the new starter’s duty of confidentiality and the importance of only accessing patient information required for their role should be emphasised. Information should be provided on related matters, such as practice procedures to safeguard patient privacy in the reception areas, how to deal with requests for patient information from third parties and subject access requests.
- Complaints handling, including the practice policy and timescales for responding to patients’ or relatives’ complaints.
- The procedure for raising patient safety concerns.
- Safeguarding, including how to raise concerns about possible abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult and how to respond to requests from social services or the police.
- Personal conduct, such as policies on discrimination, the responsible use of social media and respect for colleagues and the disciplinary procedure.
- Practice systems for managing patient correspondence, appointments and telephone consultations, travel clinics and other services.
- Procedures for emergencies, making adjustments under equality legislation, responding to aggressive behaviour.
Remember, even if staff have completed their induction, they may still need support as they adapt to their new surroundings and role. It’s a good idea to assign a senior member of the team to be their contact or mentor during this period and to keep an eye of their progress.
Finally, induction is also a good time to sit down with the new employee to assess and plan their ongoing professional development and training. This is in line with guidance from healthcare regulators to ensure team members keep up to date with CQC staffing guidance.