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15 August 2019

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I’m my PCN’s practice manager lead. How can I make the role less time-consuming?

Our panel of experts talk to Kaye Mcintosh about how to balance the demands of PCNs and the day job

Nick Nurden is Business Manager at The Ridge practice in Bradford, West Yorkshire

There is a lot of work in these early stages getting the network set up and all the schedules completed and signed off by the members. The amount of work will ebb and flow over time, but it is important to make sure it does not dominate your working life and that you do not neglect your own practice.

First, quantify the tasks that need to be completed and an estimate of the time each week you need to spend responding to general queries so that you can assess the time required compared to the time you are being funded for. Use this list to plan and prioritise the tasks to be completed within the required timescales but keeping to the hours that you have available each week.

It may be helpful to partition your week or working day up with set slots for PCN work. If your planning exercise shows that the requirement is significantly more than the funded time and looks likely to continue in that way, then you need to go back to your PCN leadership team to increase the time you are reimbursed for or recruit some help from other PMs in the network.

You can use this as a development opportunity for your team – if you can get funding to spend more time on the PCN role then this may allow you the opportunity to pass on some of your normal practice to a deputy. It is important that the PN work is shared and equitable between the member practices – don’t allow yourself or your practice to be taken advantage of.

Kay Keane is PM at the Alvanley Family Practice in Stockport, Greater Manchester

Not all PCNs have seen the value in having a lead PM. For you to have this position, they must already know your skills and expertise. That highlights the importance of making sure that your current post is back-filled.

I would suggest you speak to the clinical director and explain the situation. Get confirmation about how your home practice is being recompensed for your time away. Then work out with your own partners how you can share some of the work. This might be an ideal time to create some leaner processes or promote a rising star. Please do only pick up PCN work at your level; we are not just minute takers!

Daniel Vincent is PM and Managing Partner at Ryalls Park Medical Centre, Yeovil, Somerset

Your primary responsibility has to be your practice. I would start by having a chat with the partners. See how they feel it is going and how your absence is affecting the practice. If you have good support then your shift in focus may not be having as big an impact as you worry.

Your involvement in the PCN will be of strategic importance to the practice. If you have forward thinking partners then they will see this as an investment.  If you find that you need to shift some of your focus back to your practice, take a look at what you are doing in the PCN.

Which elements really require your skills or knowledge? Which parts are you passionate about?  Are there any other PMs who could fill the gap? Don’t give up something that you enjoy – but do make sure it is sustainable.