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General Practice Awards 2018: the Practice Manager of the Year finalists

by Beth Gault
17 October 2018

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The finalists for the General Practice Awards, which celebrate leading examples of innovation, hard work and leadership within primary care, were revealed at the end of August.
The awards, which will be held on 30 November at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel in London, are in their tenth year and, in the run-up to next month’s awards ceremony, Management in Practice is profiling the shortlisted candidates.
For the Practice Manager of the Year award, judges were looking for a practice manager who had made an outstanding contribution to their surgery’s performance over the preceding 18 months. Entrants were asked to demonstrate their impact on their patients, practice or local area.  
Kate Carr, The Crookes Practice

Practice manager Kate Carr showed ‘unflagging energy and commitment’ when this practice was ‘weathering a storm of titanic proportions’ – as was the case when she arrived at The Crookes Practice nine years ago.

Looking at the practice systems and infrastructure, Ms Carr began to move the practice forward in the right direction – including introducing extended access appointments, developing patient care and making The Crookes a hub practice.
Her decision to apply for the practice to become a hub has attracted training and research resources and increased income by an initial £96,500. Three years on, this has risen to £289,000.
Through these changes, the practice has been able to offer an additional 18,811 GP appointments, 9,689 nurse appointments, and 1,449 physiotherapy appointments, including appointments in the evenings, at weekends and on bank holidays.
Teresa Chapman, Parchmore Medical Centre

Loss of funding and three GP partners leaving threatened the future of this Croydon practice, which has a list size of 14,000 patients.
However, managing partner Teresa Chapman set in motion changes that have helped effectively manage demand, create a more diverse workforce and improve the quality of care. 
The results of this strategy include reducing emergency admissions by 4% though the introduction of an multidisciplinary urgent care clinic; cutting the number of hospital outpatient referrals by 20% and implementing a social prescribing model.
Prescribing options ranging from cooking classes to debt advice. Over 70 different activity sessions were set up in community hubs over six months as part of this model. Ms Chapman has been called ‘exceptional’ and is known as someone who will go the extra mile to help patients and colleagues. 

Tracy Dell, Plane Trees Group Practice
In the 15 years Tracy Dell has worked at Plane Trees Group Practice, she has implemented change across the business to increase efficiency and raise standards of care.
The use of IT has resulted in considerable savings for clinicians, and has increased access to appointments for patients. She also worked on the creation of Calderdale Group Practice, where patients have equal access to clinical services across 11 practice sites, creating better access to appointments.
Ms Dell works as a consultant to vulnerable practices at risk of closure, and creates a bespoke transformation plan for each of them – to help them improve and get the best out of their practice team. She plays a key leadership role in her practice and places great focus on developing and upskilling the team.  
Val Denton, Hillview Family Practice 

Known for thinking ‘outside the box’, practice manager Val Denton introduced a new work ethic to Hillview Family Prractice, scrapping the existing appointments system and putting a new and flexible way of working in place. GPs now work nine hours a day, with 15 minute appointments and admin tasks taking place within those hours. 
A consultation screen was put in place as the first port of call, rather than appointments, ‘completely changing our approach to patient care’, according to colleagues. Ms Denton also takes time to train other practice teams across Bristol, helping them to make changes where necessary.
She currently works with four practices in the city on this, in addition to her full time role at Hillview. At the practice, Ms Denton has been credited with ‘turning doctors lives around, giving them time to see patients, deliver great patient care and ensure they never feel overwhelmed with work.’
Sue Jennings, Teams Medical Practice
In the four and a half years that Sue Jennings has managed Teams Medical Practice, she has achieved considerable success.
This includes the practice being rated outstanding by the CQC, managing efficiencies so that GP, nurse and admin workloads have reduced, and seeing the practice through the successful completion of its first year’s teaching students – which comprise GPs, pharmacists and a physician’s associate.  
Colleagues have called Ms Jennings an ‘amazing woman’ and ‘dedicated professional who leads from the front’.
In addition to managing the practice, she is on the interim GP Federation Board where she is responsible for efficiencies across Gateshead, and is the carers’ lead for Gateshead.
Beyond her general practice duties, Ms Jennings is also an active member of the community, and has founded a walking group to promote socialising and people getting fresh air.
Laura Russell, John Hampden Surgery

Ensuring patient safety and care is Laura Russell’s priority, according to one of her patients.

Recently, this involved securing training for the practice staff to ensure the practice offers a dementia friendly service.

This improved the rate for identifying patients with dementia from 48% to 82%, and created tailored care for this group of patients – such as additional appointment reminders, double appointments, signage and annual care reviews.

Ms Russell has also led the practice in joining a local GP federation and working collaboratively with other practices through that.

Under her leadership, the practice has been awarded an outstanding rating by the CQC, and she has repeatedly shown ‘exceptional attention to detail’, colleagues say.
Praised for being a natural and effective manager who leads with compassion, she is known for her innovative approach and for deeply caring about her job and her team.