Introduction: The UK is short of doctors, whose workloads have increased. The new role of Doctors' Assistant has been evaluated with the aim of addressing workload and patient-flow issues. Methods: Five Doctors' Assistants were introduced at two busy acute hospitals, recruited from the healthcare assistant workforce. We devised a 2-week induction, ongoing supervision and communication exercise. The evaluation used a mixed-method design. Doctors and Doctors' Assistants completed self-reported diary entries and timings of tasks and ward rounds. Qualitative feedback was sought from other hospital staff and analysed by theme. Results: Diary cards showed 44% of doctors' time spent on administrative tasks. Doctors' Assistants' shifts documented tasks undertaken (including venepuncture, updating patient lists and drafting discharge summaries) with 84% resulting in earlier decision/diagnosis or care. Feedback reported key messages: Doctors' Assistants provide considerable practical help, their attitude enhances the team and they improve patient flow. Discussion: The project proved safe, successful and well liked. Unexpectedly, the project had to collect financial data to justify its continuation. Acute hospitals have few clinical roles at this level. Role transition requires training, supervision and line management. Conclusion: The role of Doctors' Assistant should be developed more widely, with attention to detail and economic benefits.
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- Organisational development
- doctoral education
- healthcare assistant
- health policy
- medical leadership