Digital education and training

Version 1.1, 12 June 2023

This guidance is part of the Education and training section of the Good practice guidelines for GP electronic patient records.

This article is an introduction to digital education and training for general practice staff.  You will find more detailed guidelines and helpful information in other articles in this series:


Workforce capacity and capability is a high priority for the whole of the health and social care sector, and the need to provide the workforce with high quality education and training is critical.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced most education and training for existing GP practice staff to be provided through digital channels. Prior to the pandemic education and training was provided through a mix of online resources and more traditional training models – in person, face-to-face.

Online learning is inherently flexible and can be done at a time, place and, sometimes pace, to suit the individual learner.  The Innovation, Digital and Transformation Directorate, part of Health Education England[1] is supporting wider health and care systems to address the workforce transformation challenges.  The health and social care sector recognises the need to attract new talent, to upskill the existing workforce, and to develop new roles and new ways of working.  Developing a more technically enabled, digitally skilled workforce will allow for greater diversity of the staff roles in general practice, both clinical and non-clinical.

Digital Champions are critical in supporting the development of digital skills of the General Practice workforce and require development and support using available resources such as the Digital Champions’ Programme toolkit.

Training requirements

Clinical systems

In general practice the continuous development of digital literacy skills, particularly in the use of the electronic patient record (EPR) is vital.  These skills are developed on clinical systems such as EMIS, TPP (SystmOne), Vision and several other approved framework platforms which complement the clinical systems in use.  This skills development is essential for all roles, clinical and non-clinical, particularly in the management of the EPR and any related documentation, including coding and the understanding of medical terminology.

It’s important for all staff, clinical and non-clinical, to be competent in the use of the clinical systems within a practice and the services offered by the system, e.g. e-referrals.  This training should be part of the induction for new starters, locums and students.  Changes or new elements of the clinical system should be rolled out to all staff in a timely manner and refreshers can be included in an annual update for existing staff.

As part of continued learning, all staff should be appropriately updated on the digital services offered to patients in their practice or across their primary care network (PCN).  

This includes the ability to:

  • offer all patients online access to their GP medical record, through the NHS App or through patient online services via practice websites
  • offer and promote to their patients, and those acting on their behalf, access to an online consultation tool, which enables patients to contact the practice online
  • offer and promote video consultations to their patients as an option for receiving care where appropriate

The  NHS Long Term Plan seeks to ensure that every patient has the right to be offered digital-first primary care services.

Clinical system suppliers will provide more information about training and support for their products.

All practices and the systems they use are moving towards becoming paperless, with most, if not all, of the management of the health record being computer based and primarily through the clinical database system.  This includes document management, both internally and externally.

Data protection and cyber security training

All NHS health and social care organisations are expected to undertake a training needs analysis as part of the Data Security and Protection Toolkit.  The aim is to ensure that all their staff and processes involved in the sharing of data and cyber security, meet specific standards.  As such, organisations are expected to ensure an induction that covers data security and protection as well as cyber security, is in place.

For clinical staff

As a clinician working in general practice, continuing professional development (CPD) is an ongoing requirement.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) does not specify mandatory training requirements for GP practices because of the variations in roles, responsibilities and service-user needs.  Practices must ensure that staff possess the required competencies, skills and knowledge to perform their roles, and are free to decide the format of this training.  They should also ensure that they provide protected time for this to take place.  Training could be through online resources such as:

As a minimum requirement, the CQC expects to see evidence of training which could include:

Training requirements in general practice are liable to change dependent on the current focus of variations to the GP contract.  An example of this is the requirement to train staff to support patients with additional needs and make reasonable adjustments.

The Directed Enhanced Services Specification for primary care networks published by NHS England details the minimum training requirements for the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS).   Annex B provides links relevant to each role and the options for further education and training.

GP practices as ‘providers’

Individual GP practices are considered ‘providers’ and as such have the legal responsibilities for providers as set out below:

‘All providers are required, under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, to meet Regulation 18. This means that providers must have sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced staff to meet the needs of the people using the service at all times.’

For non-clinical staff

Training for non-clinical staff can also be developed through review of the CQC guidance on mandatory training as described above, as a starting point. 

As with clinical staff there is no defined list of what constitutes mandatory training.  The CQC will, however, expect to see evidence of training for the non-clinical staff also.

The skills required in non-clinical roles are varied and wide ranging and the BMA offers advice and support on training resources.

Training hubs

Employers within general practice, as well as the associated integrated care systems (ICS) can provide access to free training for non-clinical roles through local training hubs. 

Training hubs operate within each ICS, in each region across England. They are a central resource for all training, education, and professional development of the primary care workforce, and will include digital training. They allow a pathway to learning and training opportunities available to each role.

Other helpful resources