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Manuals are a vital tool of the trade for practice managers and represent a written record of the agreed policies and procedures of the practice for a range of topics. A well designed comprehensive manual can assist in resolving any disputes regarding performance and tasks to be completed.

In a practice there may be several types of manuals created. These would include a:

  • policy and procedure manual
  • human resources (HR) manual
  • employee and induction manual
  • computer security and guidelines manual
  • computer software/user guide
  • infection control manual
  • compliance manual

The first steps in developing any manual is to determine:

  • what the aim of the manual is
  • who will be using the manual.

All manuals will contain a list of policies and procedures relating to the specific topic of the manual.

What are policies and procedures?

A policy is a statement of agreed intent that clearly and unequivocally sets out an organisation’s views with respect to a particular matter. It is a set of principles or rules that provide a definite direction for an organisation. Policies assist in defining what must be done.

Procedures describe a logical sequence of activities or processes that are to be followed to complete a task or function in a correct and consistent manner. Procedures can be produced in the form of flowcharts, checklists or written steps of the process.

Note: For every policy you establish, you will need to look at creating supporting procedures.

The manual outlines the agreed policies and procedures of the practice for the specific topic. It should be readily available to all people involved in the management or work of an organisation. The manual should be kept in either an electronic or a loose leaf file so that it can be updated and added to as policies and practices are reviewed and amended.

Policies and procedures are in writing so that all practice members are aware of the overall direction and style of the practice, how you do business, and the appropriate action to be taken in a given situation.

Set policies and procedures promote continuity and a team spirit as well as an atmosphere of good communication and support. A manual containing a comprehensive set of policies and procedures will assist in resolving any disputes regarding performance and what tasks are required to be completed.

For general practice accreditation , an appropriate range of manuals for your practice is required.

Developing a manual

If you work in a small practice, there is likely to be three processes that are commonly used for developing policy:

  1. the policy/planning/evaluation day (or weekend)
  2. A consultative process for developing particular policies; involving your practice
    team or nominated members of the team will increase the “buy-in” for the
    legitimacy of the manual contents.
  3. A policy review process.

In larger practices, the processes are likely to be more formalized:

  1. standing policy and procedures committee/s for different areas.
  2. forms committee/s
  3. recommendations and decisions passing through several levels of management.

Tip: In small practices wanting to develop a specific manual, consider the following:

Devote time at a staff meeting at least once a month to brainstorm issues related to one area of policy.

Review the draft of a policy that has been prepared as a result of previous brainstorming.

At every board/management committee meeting, devote some time to reviewing a draft policy and making decisions on it.

There are a number of template manuals available that can be used as the basis for your specific practice manual.

Designed to be customised

The templates for your manual are made up of example topics and sections. It is completely customisable based on your specific requirements, in fact the more time you spend tailoring it to your specific requirements the more effective it will be.

Quick links to Policy and Procedure resources

You can find comprehensive policy and procedure advice and template documents within this site to help you manage your practice. The following pages are recommended:

Include what you must and can comply with

This document should be used in conjunction with any specific company procedures and processes and if applicable, conditions contained in any contract of employment. Only include the commitments you are confident you can comply with, and make sure you update and review the document regularly.

You may have legal obligations to your employees under an employment or industrial agreement such as an award, workplace agreement or employment contract.

Make absolutely certain what’s written in your manual is consistent with these. If you’re unsure what covers your employees, contact Fair Work Australia by calling the Fair Work Ombudsman Infoline on 13 13 94.

Next page

Change management
  • You are an agent of change
  • Staff and change
  • Communicating change
  • Resistance to change

This publication is proudly brought to you by Avant Mutual Group. The content was authored by Brett McPherson, reviewed by Colleen Sullivan and Avant Mutual Group.

This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2014.

IMPORTANT: Professional indemnity insurance products and Avant’s Practice Medical Indemnity Policy are issued by Avant Insurance Limited, ABN 82 003 707 471, AFSL 238 765. The information provided here is general advice only. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us. For full details including the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply, please read and consider the policy wording and PDS, which is available at or by contacting us on 1800 128 268. Practices need to consider other forms of insurance including directors’ and officers’ liability, public and products liability, property and business interruption insurance, and workers compensation and you should contact your insurance broker for more information. Cover is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy. Any advice here does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the product is appropriate for you before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us.