A rota is a system for planning the staffing for different duties within the practice. It is used to:

  • ensure that all duties have sufficient cover

  • enable everyone in the practice to see who is responsible for particular duties on a given day

  • ensure patient needs can be met as fully as possible

  • ensure the right skill mix is available to deliver the services required

As rotas can be time-consuming to create, they are usually made in advance to cover a number of weeks at a time. This also allows staff involved in the rota to plan ahead, knowing in advance what they will be doing when.

There will usually be more than one rota in a practice. The most common are:

  • GP rota — for routine surgeries, emergency surgeries or extras, telephone consultations, emergency on-call

  • administrative staff rota — for shifts and the different reception and admin duties

  • nurses and/or AHP (allied health practitioners) rotas — for telephone consultations, triage, clinics.

It may be useful to merge the GP and nurse/AHP rotas into a single rota, especially if:

  • their work overlaps, for instance on telephone consultations

  • there is limited consultation space, shared between GPs and other clinical staff.

The effects of Coronavirus (Covid-19) have been profound on all aspects of general practice. Increased capacity for remote consultation has been rapidly introduced with appointments being triaged in advance of essential face-to-face appointments being made.

Some groups of practices have joined together to share workloads and in these circumstances a lead should be agreed for overall rota development.

There are added complexities in ensuring rotas have sufficient flexibility to factor in cover for staff who may need to isolate, often at very short notice, due to Covid-19.

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