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GP practice that goes the extra mile for its patients wins award

4 November 2008

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A single-handed GP practice in Manchester, which places a special focus on giving a “personal touch” to patient care, has won a MiP award for its financial management.

Dr John Thompson’s Seven Brooks Medical Centre was announced as the winner of the Practice Finance Award, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, at the inaugural Management in Practice Awards ceremony held earlier this month.

Last year, the practice, which has 4,800 registered patients, underwent the painstaking process of rechecking all of the practice’s disease prevalence registers to ensure all patient data were coded correctly against the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) criteria.

The process not only meant conducting a thorough search of the surgery’s database and re-entering correct computer Read codes, but also involved telephoning and screening patients to make sure that health conditions were correctly attributed.

“The project was conducted in a very planned way, like a military operation,” said Toni Cooper (pictured), the practice manager at medical centre. “For instance, one day we’d look at the prevalence data for diabetes, then the next day we’d move on. It did work and I was amazed by the results.”

The practice’s efforts paid off as they received a certificate of achievement from their primary care trust.

For the practice team, though, the most important outcome was the increase in quality of service, as patients were now monitored more rigorously and given the most appropriate medication. “With just a little bit of effort and hard work, patients we were theoretically missing or hadn’t originally coded right were now getting a better service,” said Mrs Cooper.

Mrs Cooper was presented with her award and a £500 prize by two of the Practice Finance / Royal Bank of Scotland Award judges, Kavita Oberoi and Jane Gamble. The ceremony took place at the Birmingham NEC on 8 October.

Jane Gamble, a practice manager with more than 20 years’ prior experience of banking, explained: “We were looking for a practice that was making the most of its income and expenditure, but also looking at how this affected the whole team and the patients.”

Kavita Oberoi, the managing director of IT firm Oberoi Consulting, a key provider of services to the NHS, agreed: “This award is not just about finance, but also about the patients,” she said.

This patient focus is shared by Mrs Cooper and her practice. “For us, it’s not just about the QOF points; it’s about quality – and maintaining the quality,” Mrs Cooper said.

Seven Brooks’ patient-focused approach is reflected in Mrs Cooper’s decision to send out birthday cards to every patient who reaches 65. These patients are also given an appointment with the practice nurse for a pneumonia injection as well as a full health check and blood test with the healthcare assistant.

The practice also sends congratulations cards to new mothers, reminding them of their first post-natal appointment at the GP surgery, as well as bereavement cards. “These cards let bereaved patients’ know we’re here and thinking of them, and that they can contact us if they need us,” explained Mrs Cooper.

The cards reflect the practice’s “cradle to the grave” approach, supported by their largely static patient list. “It’s that personal touch and that wins over,” says Mrs Cooper. “You can achieve this if you’re willing to go that little bit extra, your team work as one, they take commitment and ownership of the practice and want to be the best. That’s the way we try to be.”

Winning the Practice Finance / Royal Bank of Scotland Award means recognition for the surgery’s hard work, says Mrs Cooper. “We’ve tried hard as a team and we do work as a team. It’s recognition of your achievements and it’s make you feel, ‘we are doing something good, maybe we should continue and do something else’. It makes us think: ‘What can we do next year?'”

MiP Awards