Medical Secretary

Medical secretaries deal with correspondence going out from, and into, the practice. These will often be referrals to and from other clinicians. They require good keyboard skills, a good telephone manner, IT skills and a knowledge of medical terminology.

Scope of Practice

The following are the core responsibilities of the Medical Secretary.  There may be, on occasions, a requirement to carry out other tasks. This will be dependent upon factors such as workload and staffing levels:

  • To provide an efficient audio, copy typing and word processing service for GPs and health professionals as required. This includes the typing of letters, reports, patient referrals, letters to patients and outside agencies etc. in an accurate and quality manner.
  • Liaise with GP’s and health professionals with any queries or missing data to ensure referrals are dealt within the set timeframe.
  • Process referrals using the electronic referral system (ERS)
  • Process urgent 2 week wait referrals in a timely fashion.
  • Assistance to doctors and clinicians including composing letters on doctors’ behalf either at their request or created under own initiative. Making enquiries and following up investigations. To take responsibility for administration and completion of tasks/queries requested by all GP’s.
  • Daily prioritising of workload according to urgency.
  • To liaise on a daily basis with the doctors, managers and team members and take on duties as required.
  • Make and receive telephone calls to/for GPs, patients, consultant secretaries and outside agencies.
  • Organise and implement new systems/protocols as required for efficient, smooth running of secretarial office.
  • Source new referral criteria/organisations as requested.
  • Have knowledge of contract exclusions for referrals and liaise with GP’s as required.
  • Take responsibility for directing referrals to the correct specialist services following appropriate guidance.
  • To update all patient information (Referral data, discharge and history summaries) on the computer system, as required.
  • To liaise with the management team and assist by taking on other duties as required.
  • To maintain secretarial cover in the absence of other secretarial staff
  • Training other members of staff in secretarial duties as required.

Training Requirements

Medical Secretaries should have a good working knowledge of:

Clinical Coding – This could by via local virtual workshops, in-house training or you may wish to undertake more formal training – PMA Business Administration with embedded Clinical Coding | Incorporating the Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard – PMA (

NHS E-referral system – NHS e-Referral Service – NHS England Digital

Medical Terminology – This could be via local virtual workshops, or you may wish to undertake formal training – AMSPAR – Medical Terminology


Government funding is available to cover tuition and end point assessment fees associated with apprenticeship programmes. Most Primary Care organisations are non-levy paying (i.e. have a wages bill of under £3 million each year)

There are 2 ways to access funding.

  • Co- investment funding – the government will cover 95% of the tuition fees and the practice/PCN would need to cover the remaining 5%.
  • Levy Share – Larger levy paying organisations can share their Levy with others and this would cover the total cost of tuition fees.

Supervision Requirements

Although this role is fairly autonomous supervision would be provided by an Operational Manager, Practice Manager and/or GP Partner.

Learning and Development

Medical Secretaries can progress in two different ways:

A) A more clinical role – via GP Assistant Programme or HCA

B) Administratively – via Team Lead to Management.

    Devon Training Hub Offers

    • Devon Way – Level 3 Business & Administration Apprenticeship in Primary Care.
    • Devon Way – Level 5 Operational/Departmental Manager Apprenticeship in Primary Care.

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