Professional bodies and associations for digital primary care staff

Version 1.2, 1 May 2023

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

Well-established professional bodies and associations for clinical primary care staff (in general practice and in new roles in primary care networks) include the following: 

The General Medical Council (GMC), National Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), and other professional regulators also signpost to resources on digital primary care, education and training, as well as guidance on professional standards, for example remote consultations and Doctors’ use of social media:

Primary care professional bodies and associations for non-clinical staff

The following are the bodies or associations for those in a non-clinical role in primary care professions, like practice managers, administrators, secretaries and receptionists as well as the newer roles of care coordinators and link workers.

As with the clinical associations, these bodies offer support for their members as well as education and learning resources, plus advice on development as well as good standards of practice:

Please note that some associations or organisations may offer access to their resources via a paid subscription service.  There may also be associated costs for any training resources on offer. 

Informatics professional bodies and associations

‘Health informatics’ is about how we can use patient data in the provision of health care.  It is a multi-disciplinary process involving, clinical and non-clinical staff, computer engineers and data scientists.  It is increasingly concerned with the application of artificial intelligence, big data, and genomics to medicine. 

The aim is to make better use of health-related data to improve patient outcomes, make better use of resources and improve processes. 

It is a developing area within the field of healthcare and can offer careers to those from both clinical and non-clinical backgrounds and will have growing importance in digital primary care.

There are several bodies and associations that provide a professional home for health and care staff working in, or aspiring to work in, information and IT in the delivery of health (informatics). These bodies include:

Each offers training and development opportunities, some of which will be directly relevant to working in a digital first primary care service.   

Alphabetical list of key organisations and their roles

The following section describes the roles of the main organisations in health informatics professionalism. The functions of the seven primary care professional bodies and associations for clinical and non-clinical staff listed earlier are set out in a table in the summary section at the end of this article.

AphA is a professional body representing health and care analysts.  Its vision is to have professionally registered analysts.  It offers members the opportunity to become professionally registered with the Federation of Informatics Professionals (FEDIP). 

AMSPAR is a professional membership organisation.  It aims to create and promote the attainment of appropriate qualifications for those working as medical secretaries, medical receptionists, administrators, and practice managers.

It performs two functions, as a:

  • professional membership organisation which recognises both formal qualifications and length of service in a healthcare environment
  • provider of special privileges and services to members, including access to a free legal helpline, newsletters, and events

AMSPAR works with the awarding body City & Guilds to provide a range of nationally recognised qualifications suitable for delivery as either full or part-time study programmes.  These range from Level 2 through to Level 5 and are available in a range of packages.  It also offers several short training courses.  Training course fees and subscription charges apply

The British Computer Society offers membership to a broad range of professionals working in the wider discipline of informatics, in the public and private sectors.  The objective of BCS is to make sure:

‘……the digital journey is safe and positive for everyone, by raising standards of competence and conduct across the IT industry and tackling the ethical challenges we face along the way’.

BCS activity is built around five strategic pillars, aimed at raising standards and realising the potential in the technology industry. 

In terms of support for digital primary care, the BCS provides:

  • different levels of registration, fees, and memberships
  • different levels of qualification
  • support for team and staff training and development
  • events including an annual conference of the Primary Healthcare Specialist Group (see below)
  • publications
  • a means of influencing national policy in healthcare and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • BCS Primary Healthcare Specialist Group

The Primary Health Care Specialist Group (PHCSG) is open to anyone interested in primary healthcare informatics, including clinicians, managers, academics, and suppliers.

Its focus is the development and dissemination of best practice in primary care informatics and influencing policy makers to ensure the effective application of informatics for the benefit of patients.

The Faculty is a relatively new body, established to provide a professional home for clinicians working, or with a specific interest in, informatics.

Its stated vision is:

‘To support safe, effective, and efficient health and social care to the public through the promotion and encouragement of the study and practice of the science of clinical informatics.

To advance the health of the public but not exclusively, through the following:

  • the development and monitoring of professional standards in clinical informatics
  • the provision of education and training to clinicians
  • the provision of guidance on the commissioning, design, development and delivery of health and care information systems
  • the promotion of the inclusion of clinical informatics in core clinical training to help promote safe, effective, and professional standards
  • openness, transparency, equality, and diversity’

The Faculty provides webinars, several special interest groups, mentoring support and a clinical informatics competency framework.

FEDIP is the Federation for Informatics Professionals in Health and Social Care.  It is a collaboration between the leading professional bodies in health and care informatics to support the development of the informatics profession.

It was set up following discussions between BCS, The Chartered Institute of Library and Informatics Professionals (CILIP), IHRIM, SOCITM (the professional network for leaders engaged in innovation and modernisation in public services) and UKCHIP (UK Council for Health Informatics Professions – this no longer exists as a standalone organisation). 

The Federation brings individuals and organisations together to establish professional standards in health informatics and maintains a public, searchable, register of experienced practitioners.  Member organisations include AphA and BCS.

The licensed institutions offer their members professional registration at five levels: Associate Practitioner, Practitioner, Senior Practitioner, Advanced Practitioner and Leading Practitioner, dependent on the competence, knowledge, and experience of the applicant in the field of health informatics.

IHRIM aims to advance the health records, information management, clinical coding, and information governance professions through the provision of leadership, education, advocacy, qualifications, and lifelong learning.

It is primarily an educational body and examinations body.  It delivers:

  • health informatics qualifications at Foundation, Certificate and Diploma level
  • the National Clinical Coding Qualification
  • Certificate of Technical Competence in Health records at basic and advanced levels (workplace assessed)
  • Personalised Care Institute

The Personalised Care Institute provides knowledge and skills for health professionals to enable and support patients to become more involved in decisions about their care.

The Institute specifically provides training courses on delivering personalised care as well as shared decision making.  Training in these areas is mandatory for the roles of care coordinators, social prescribing link workers, and health and wellbeing coaches.

The Institute offers:

  • structured online training courses and a curriculum for personalised care and shared decision making
  • information and advice about accredited training available from other providers
  • resources for learners as well as trainers
  • webinars and podcasts
  • Practice Managers’ Association (PMA)

The PMA is the representative body for all managers and non-clinical workers across the health and social care sectors, providing both professional recognition and professional development support.

It’s a UK-wide membership body, working closely with many organisations across primary care and the wider health and social care sectors, providing continuous support to NHS England, NHS Digital, RCGP, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and others.  It has more than 25,000 non-clinical and clinical members.

The PMA has developed a series of business-related workshops for the RCGP, providing GPs with the commercial insight required for modern NHS surgeries.  It works with commissioners, integrated care boards (ICBs), training hubs, local medical committees (LMCs) and care homes to create staff development services and resources.

It provides:

  • workshops
  • professional diplomas at Level 3, Level 5, and Level 7
  • accredited e-learning programmes
  • apprenticeship standards
  • webinars and podcasts
  • consultancy and conference management services

There are two levels of membership.  Basic membership is free, and enhanced services for premium members require payment of an annual fee.

The Royal College of General Practitioners sets standards within the field of general practice and for supervising the training of doctors within the specialty.  Responsibility for the application of those standards in the UK rests with the General Medical Council (GMC).

It provides a wide range of services and resources for general practitioners, including:

  • career advice
  • training and development for GPs in training and post-qualification
  • e-learning resources
  • mentoring and coaching support
  • consultancy
  • research
  • campaigning, and influencing government and employers
  • conferences
  • workshops
  • publications, including toolkits and guidance
  • a journal

The College has a health informatics special interest group.

The College headquarters is in central London, with a network of regional faculties.


NHS England continues to liaise with professional bodies and associations on matters of assurance and feedback to support policy and change.

The table below summarises the functions of the seven organisations described in this guidance.

Education and training provision by provider 


Professional standards Qualifications Professional registration Training and short courses


e-Learning Events Mentoring or coaching Staff group











Faculty of Clinical Inform-atics

























Other helpful resources