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How to recruit a Medical PA for your private practice

Medical PA Recruitment - Private Practice - Designated Medical

Recruiting the right Medical PA for your private practice is important. You need to find the right person with the right skills but most importantly the right person for you and your patients.

Your Medical PA will act as an ambassador for your private practice and will take responsibility for the overall patient experience. The right person will make a significant contribution to the success of your practice and so it is important to choose very wisely.


One of the most important factors today is where your Medical PA will be based. Do you plan to have a virtual Medical PA who works from home, or do you require your Medical PA to be office based within your consulting rooms?

Most Medical Secretaries have now had the opportunity to work from home and they have loved it, so returning to an office-based role is less appealing to them. For those who will consider an office-based role there is demand for a higher salary to compensate for the additional time, cost and stress associated with commuting.

If your preference is for office based, then it is worth considering if you can offer some kind of flexibility, for example, part time hours, or a hybrid model with the week split between office and home.

Employment model

You will also need to decide on your choice of employment model. Do you plan to employ a permanent member of staff, contract someone on a self-employed basis or subscribe to a Medical PA service. Each model has pros and cons as follows.

Permanent Employment

The benefit of employing an individual to work directly with you is potentially a greater sense of belonging and loyalty to your practice. As an employee your Medical PA may feel a greater sense of being part of your team.

If your Medical PA is your fist employee you will need to register with HMRC and take responsibility for payroll, National Insurance and potentially provision of a pension.

You will also have responsibilities as a line manager for the health and safety of your employees and for ongoing management.

Your Medial PA will be entitled to a holiday allowance of at least 20 days plus bank holidays and you will need to arrange cover for these holiday periods.

If your practice is full time, based within your own consulting rooms, and office based then employing your Medical PA will probably be your favoured option.

Self employed

There are many Medical PAs who have set themselves up in a self-employed freelance capacity and this may be an option for you to consider. They generally have a great deal of experience working in private practice and have decided that they would prefer to work for themselves, based at home and to avoid commuting. You will benefit from their wealth of experience and limited responsibilities as you are not officially employing them.

You will normally pay an hourly rate for your service and your Medical PA will be responsible for handling their own tax and national insurance.

Your Medical PA will choose how much holiday they wish to take, and you will not pay for the holiday time although you might feel it is fair to do so. It is important to ask a prospective self-employed Medical PA what arrangements they have in place to cover your practice when they are on holiday or if they are unwell.

One word of warning about the self-employed model is IR35 and its implications. IR35 refers to UK tax legislation introduced in April 2000, which is designed to make sure contractors pay the right amount of income tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs). Currently the IR35 rules do not apply to small businesses but they do for medium and large companies. Your self-employed Medical PA is most likely to be considered as being outside IR 35 which means they are not considered to be your employee. Contractors operating outside IR35 are responsible for making sure they pay the right amount of tax outside the PAYE system.

Medical PA Service

A Medical PA service is different to recruiting either a permanent employee or a self-employed Medical PA in that you will receive a service which means you limit your responsibilities hugely and this can prove to be very beneficial.

Your Medical PA service provider will provide you with a nominated Medical PA who works with you and your patients and becomes the face of your practice. Your Medical PA will be available during normal working hours to answer your patient calls, book patient appointments and undertake all the normal tasks for you.

You will pay for the time your Medical PA works specifically for you and usually you will be charged an hourly rate for this. You will receive a monthly invoice and so there is no need to worry about payroll and HMRC responsibilities.

Your Medical PA will probably have one or two other clients to fill their working day so they will have other priorities, but the benefit to you is that this can be a very cost-effective solution.

You service provider will also manage holidays and sick leave so that you don’t need to worry about any of the logistics.

Job description

If you plan to employ your Medical PA then you must create a job description, but it is a good idea to spend some time articulating your expectations in writing which ever model you are planning to use.

A job description clearly states the essential requirements of the job describing the main duties and responsibilities and the skills required to perform the role. There are numerous job description templates online that you can use to help get you started.

Ideally you would share your job description with all potential candidates for the role so they can determine if they are a good fit. The job description will also be valuable when managing performance in the role.


Deciding what salary to offer to a Medical PA is a complex decision and the market has changed a great deal since the Covid pandemic. Most Medical PAs would prefer to work in a virtual role, based at home, and those who are looking for office-based positions will expect a higher salary to compensate for commuting costs and time.

A good place to start checking for information to help you decide what salary to offer is Indeed, the recruitment website. They offer information on the average salary for various professions, and you can also check out other current job adverts to get a guide.

Finding the right person

Finding the right person is the greatest challenge. It is a good idea to ask your network of colleagues for any recommendations and also to keep you in mind if they hear of a Medical PA looking for a new role.

You can engage a recruitment consultant to help manage the process for you and this is the best option if you have limited time. It is important to choose a recruiter who has direct experience of recruiting Medical PAs in private practice. You will normally be charged a percentage of salary and the terms will provide some back up if your new candidate does not work out in the first three months of working in the role.

If you want to manage the recruitment process yourself (the DIY approach) then you will need to set aside time to manage the process.

The DIY recruitment approach

1. Job advert

Your first objective will be to advertise your role and you should look to websites such as Indeed to help you do this. You can place your job advert on Indeed and use their recruitment system to help you shortlist candidates, arrange interviews etc. There are also skills tests that you can introduce as part of the application process.

2. Promotion

If you are using social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn you can promote your job advert here to drum up more interest and this can make a huge difference.

3. Interviews

Once you have attracted a few candidates you will need to work through them and create your shortlist of those you want to offer an interview. I would recommend an initial video interview prior to offering the opportunity for a face-to-face interview.

4. Offer letter

When you have found your ideal Medical PA, you will need to formally offer the role in the form of an offer letter. In practice you will probably offer the position verbally either in person or by phone, but the letter formalises this.

Your employment offer letter expresses your intent to employ your Medical PA and should contain a brief summary of the main terms and conditions of the position. This will include details of start date, salary and benefits. You may make your offer contingent on certain conditions such as acceptable references and if the candidate does not meet these requirements, you are able to withdraw the offer.

5. References

In most cases it is advisable to ask for two references and, in a practice regulated by CQC this is essential. You may also need your Medical PA to provide a current DBS certificate (Disclosure and Barring Service).

6. Employment Contract

Your employment contract is your detailed offer of employment to follow the initial offer letter and must be signed by both employer and employee.

If this is your first employee you would be well advised to consult an HR specialist or employment lawyer to help draft your contract, although there are numerous template contracts available on the internet.

7. Start Date

Hopefully day one is the beginning of a long and successful employment that works well for you, your patients and your employee.

If your Medical PA is your first employee then you will need to consider your responsibilities as an employer including health and safety etc, but also in terms of HMRC and payroll.