Here’s our pick of what we found out at Management in Practice’s event, from the role of practice managers in collaborative working to how Manchester itself is leading the way on integration
Management in Practice’s one-day event returned to Manchester on 11 June at the Bridgewater Hall.
Delegates were given an insight into some of the greatest challenges and opportunities they face as general practice undergoes big changes over the next few years, as well as practical tips on how to navigate them.
Here are our top take-aways from the day.
1. Practice managers should take the lead in collaborative working
Sharing how their practices grouped together with nine others in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, practice managers Tracy Dell and Liz Coulson said the success of the project was thanks to the leadership of the practice managers.
Ms Dell said: ‘It’s been really widely recognised that practice managers did most of the work and are still doing most of the work at Calderdale Group Practice.’ When the practice managers were excluded from meetings, little progress was made on the collaboration, she added.
Now the practice managers meet monthly and feed into Calderdale Group Practice’s board meetings. Each practice manager has two hours per week of protected time allocated to group practice work and practice manager leads have been agreed for each area.
To date, the group practice has saved just under £100,000 by negotiating group contracts for services such as phones, accountants and cleaners – a true testament to what practice managers can achieve when they put their heads together.
2. You know you’ve got to work with others – but are you prepared to deal with conflict?
Capsticks Solicitors partners Lisa Geary and Dan Kirk were on hand to give their advice on the key legal issues relating to GP surgery premises. They recognised the overwhelming amount of work practice managers are faced with as primary care networks (PCNs) are introduced and highlighted how collaborative working can bring risks of legal disputes.
Having third parties working on practice premises is likely to increase as networks share staff like clinical pharmacists and work with other providers. These third parties should be granted a lease if they have a particular space that they have control over so that it’s clear who is responsible for things like utilities, maintenance and compliance.
Ms Geary said: ‘Without a lease, very few terms are implied so if something goes wrong it’s really difficult and a lot of money will be spent on legal fees.’
The most important thing is to be aware and be prepared – Ms Geary told delegates to ‘be proactive so you avoid issues before they arise’.
3. ‘Staff banks’ could prove increasingly useful for practices as they expand their teams within networks
Current work trends in general practice are seeing a greater focus on the multi-disciplinary team – enshrined in the latest GP contract by way of PCNs – and staff pooling could help practices adapt, according to Dr Ben Herring, clinical lead for the locum managing app Locum’s Nest.
Traditionally used for managing GP locum hiring, Dr Herring set out how a digital ‘staff bank’ could help networks plug gaps of other healthcare professionals that will be shared across practices, such as pharmacists and social prescribing link workers.
He added that practices can attract locum staff by offering continuing professional development opportunities like educational workshops and might then be able to fill salaried positions more easily too. Once relationships have been established, locum staff are more likely to apply for permanent roles in practices where they’re used to working, he said.
4. Manchester is leading the way on working at scale
Thanks to devolution, Greater Manchester is ahead of the game in integrated working.
NHS organisations and local authorities have been taking charge of health and social care spending in the city region since February 2015 and took the opportunity to restructure their healthcare architecture, forming integrated ‘neighbourhood teams’. These integrated teams provide community health and social care services to 30,000-50,000 people, much like the newly-formed primary care networks.
As Manchester forge a path ahead, practices across the country should look to the city to learn from their experiences.