Project Description

In a bid to provide a multi-disciplinary, professional workforce able to meet the burgeoning demands of primary care, non-clinical roles are being developed and extended.

Incorporating the Customer Service Specialist Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard and Level 3 City & Guilds, this course offers the opportunity for customer service practitioners (receptionists, administrators, care navigators) to develop their business and customer insight knowledge and skills and work towards a recognised formal qualification.

As the name suggests learners will become ‘specialists’ in customer support and ‘advocates’ for excellent customer service, supporting other team members and highlighting service improvements, working with a range of systems and data.

It is highly likely that those involved in this qualification would also have a key role in Enhanced Care Navigation within their practices.


This apprenticeship is 95% government-funded with a 5% employer co-investment. Please call or email for more information.

If you are an employer with a pay bill over £3 million each year, you will automatically be paying into the apprenticeship Levy. Please call or email for more information.

Further funding information can be found here.

  • Duration: 15-18 Months

  • Location: Workplace

Entry Requirements

It is expected that the learner will have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at Grade 4 or above. Alternatively, learners with long-standing evidence of work to a Level 3 standard may apply if they are supported by their employer and would then follow Functional Skills training alongside the apprenticeship.

It should also be noted that the learner will need to achieve a Level 2 standard in English and Mathematics prior to their End Point Assessment. These are referred to as Functional Skills and during enrolment, learners will be required to complete both Maths and English Initial Assessments and diagnostic tests to assess their level of understanding. If learners are exempt due to prior achievements, certificates must be presented as evidence before enrolment if this is the case, failure to do so will result in learners having to complete Functional Skills.

To be eligible for the apprenticeship learners will need to work a minimum of 30 hours per week and have the support of their line manager and employer. Learners will complete a self-assessment to assess their knowledge, skills and behaviours to ensure they are eligible for the apprenticeship.


This unit will include an initial workplace assessment and one-to-one discussion with the learner and line manager and will cover:

  • Understanding of candidate’s duties and responsibilities
  • Understanding candidate’s personal development in a healthcare setting
  • Understanding key principles of customer service
  • Exploration of patient/customer relationship
  • Core attitudes and behaviours
  • Importance of presentation
  • Understanding of how to deliver integrated care in general practice

Skills & Understanding

This qualification includes knowledge and skills units focused on:

1. Business knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the practice and localities’ current strategies in relation to their customers/patients and how this impacts on the wider healthcare environment., e.g. GPFV; Making Time in General Practice.
  • Understand the concept of continuous improvement
  • Ability to make recommendations for change and improvement in service related decisions
  • Explore and understand a range of leadership styles in the context of the customer service environment

2. Customer/Patient journey knowledge

  • Recognise and evaluate the range of experiences and challenges of the patients/customers
  • Identify the impact the organisation’s service offering may have on the customer/patient
  • Knowledge and application of all relevant processes and procedures supporting customer service
  • Ability to map the patient journey for a range of individuals and signpost appropriately
  • Understand balance in healthcare environment between individual’s expectations and commercial and business factors

3. Customer insight

  • Understand the locality and the impact of varying cultures on expectations
  • Knowledge of patient profile and who are the organisation’s internal and external customers
  • Effective use of relevant information and data to provide customer insights and variances
  • Understand the factors influencing patient/customer retention and satisfaction in the practice and how this is measured
  • Champion the effective delivery of care navigation and signposting.

4. Culture and environment awareness

  • Relevant knowledge and understanding of legislation, policies and protocols impacting on customer service in primary care – national and local, e.g. GPFV, GDPR
  • Awareness of how to find information on best practice for the healthcare environment and how to present recommendations
  • Explore the role of customer service in the organisation, its wider impact and implications of poor customer service

5. Business focused service delivery

  • Ability to resolve complex patient/customer service issues
  • Suggest recommendations for customer service improvement balancing needs of organisation with patient requirements and expectations.
  • Understanding of unique healthcare business environment and how it differs from some other customer service environments
  • Insight into issues facing general practice and need for increased resilience

6. Providing a positive customer experience

  • Use advanced communication and care navigation to enhance patient experience

  • Assist patients in making choices and agreeing next steps
  • Act as an escalation point for complex and challenging customer service situations
  • Resolve customer complaints and identify key areas of dissatisfaction
  • Utilise a range of data and information to provide insights on the service provided and satisfaction levels

7. Working with customers/patients

  • Proactively gather and analyse customer/patient information and data and act upon results to make service improvements
  • Use information on patient profiles and groups to anticipate needs and expectations of the service

8. Customer service performance

  • Use effective communication and negotiation to maintain positive patient/customer relations even when their expectations are not met.
  • Effective management of referrals and escalations to achieve resolution
  • Understand, uphold and develop complaints procedure

9. Service improvements

  • Analyse the entire patient/customer journey and suggest recommendations
  • Understand and implement any new relevant legislation, regulations and ways of working
  • Review how services are promoted and make recommendations

Course Delivery

This will include a wide range of teaching and learning techniques and styles including one-to-one coaching, discussions and teaching, observations, practical assessments, mentoring, independent research and e-learning. The assigned PMA Tutor/Assessor will use online face to face platforms such as Zoom/MS Teams/FaceTime/Skype, as well as periodic workplace visits.

Learners will have access to Aptem, our e-portfolio system that supports in monitoring progression throughout the apprenticeship.  It is the central system that keeps track of learner assignments, evidence and holds resources that will support learners to complete the apprenticeship.

Line managers will be a key driver in learner development, importantly in agreeing the unique learning plan and kept abreast of progress at every step.

What is 20% off-the-job training (OTJ)?

Learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment and leads towards the achievement of the apprenticeship. This can include training delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work but must not be delivered as part of their normal working duties. Both Learner and employer will receive a Guide surrounding 20% OTJ training.

Apprentices will be expected to keep a log of all learning activities working towards the 20% off the job requirements.

Off-the-job activities could include:

  • Attending masterclass teaching and learning sessions
  • Coaching
  • Independent research
  • In-house training
  • Shadowing
  • Industry visits
  • Mentoring
  • Supervision with employer
  • Writing assignments
  • Online learning
  • Manufacturer training
  • Role play
  • Simulation exercises
  • Team meetings that include training
  • Completion of reflective journal

Functional Skills

Functional Skills are nationally recognised qualifications in English and maths.  They are part of a government initiative and designed to improve literacy and numeracy skills across the workforce.  Due to this, Functional Skills are a mandatory part of Apprenticeship Standards.  Anyone enrolling to an Apprenticeship must complete Functional Skills English and Functional Skills maths unless they have already achieved them previously at Level 2 or have GCSE’s (or equivalent) in both subjects at Grade C or above.  Certificates must be presented as evidence before enrolment if this is the case, failure to do so will result in learners having to complete Functional Skills.

In order to support you in completing Functional Skills, PMA will undertake an initial assessment and diagnostic assessment which will enable its specialist tutors to identify which areas to focus on with you and this will form the basis of a personalised learning plan.

It is important to bear in mind that Functional Skills do require apprentices to sit formal examinations.  The team will support you with exam technique alongside your learning plan, and will arrange for the examinations to take place at your workplace.

If you are undertaking a Level 2 Apprenticeship, you are required to complete Functional Skills English and maths at Level 1.  If however you complete Functional Skills early, it is a government requirement for PMA to upskill you to Level 2 Functional Skills.  If you are undertaking an Apprenticeship at Level 3 or higher, then you will automatically be enrolled to Level 2 Functional Skills.

End Point Assessment (EPA)

EPA is the name given to a series of tests that an apprentice must complete at the end of their Apprenticeship in order to receive their certificate. The EPA confirms apprentices are capable of undertaking the job that they have been training to do.  These tests are undertaken with an external organisation (known as an end point assessment organisation) to remove any bias from the examination process.  The employer will choose the end point assessment organisation and PMA will support them to obtain information pertinent to this if needed.

When apprentices enrol on to an apprenticeship, they study various units covering a wide range of relevant topics for their job enhancing their knowledge, skills and behaviours. This is often referred to as being ‘on programme’ and apprentices must complete all of the mandatory components of this including Functional Skills where appropriate.

Once this is completed, it is at this point the employer, after discussion with their apprentice and PMA, ‘signs off’ their apprentice as ready for EPA. This decision process is known as the ‘gateway’ to End Point Assessment.

The apprentice must be assessed by a minimum of 2 different assessments methods and the methods used will be the ones most relevant to the job. This testing will examine that the apprentice is capable of doing their job.  After the EPA, the apprentice is graded by pass, merit or distinction. Clear grading descriptors set out the requirements for each grade.


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