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‘Don’t underestimate pressures practice managers are under,’ says BMA GPC chair

by Valeria Fiore
18 October 2018

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Practice managers are working under ‘huge pressure’ that we should not underestimate, BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey has said.

Speaking at the Best Practice show in Birmingham yesterday, Dr Vautrey acknowledged that the number of admin and non-clerical staff in general practice has remained level since 2015 – a very different situation to the crisis created by the shortage of clinical staff within the NHS.

Nevertheless, he said, ‘we shouldn’t underestimate the pressures on our practice manager colleagues and others as well.’

People today live longer, often while managing a number of different and complex health conditions that mean they need to see their GP and practice staff more frequently – leading to an increase in the overall workload for practice managers and their teams.

By investing in practice management, some of the pressures clinical staff currently face could be taken off them and allocated to more appropriate members of staff, Dr Vautrey said.

He added: ‘GPs should really be about managing the clinical issues but then having strategic oversight of what happens in their practice, not getting involved in the day to day [tasks] that someone with the necessary skills can do much better than us [GPs].’

Supporting practice managers

In a Q&A session with Dr Vautrey, practice manager Sheinaz Stansfield asked the GP committee chair how practice managers can get the support they need to manage their growing workload, including a rising level of bureaucracy, while also coping with an increasing number of patient complaints.

Dr Vautrey said: ‘There is huge pressure on practice staff and practice managers and we do need to invest in that.

‘One of the potential opportunities I think is [for] practice managers [to get] some shared support and training through practice managers groups, without having to reinvent the wheel every time in each practice. We can do it across a group and share the pressures.’

Commenting on the current move towards primary care networks, Dr Vautrey said that working at scale should not mean making general practice less focused on the individual patient.

He said: ‘Primary care networks are not about creating some big super practice unit that makes general practice more anonymous.
‘We have to retain the building blocks of the primary care network, which are the individual practices, so patients feel a direct connection with their practice.’