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Happy manager and GP relationships improve patient care

6 August 2007

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The health service works best when managers and doctors work together without conflict, suggests the National Inquiry into Management and Medicine.

Although focused on hospital management, the applications of this work are far reaching.

“It can be difficult for doctors and management to get on,” says Becky Malby at the University of Leeds.

“But our study shows that where the two sides work together, everyone can benefit.”

Ms Malby adds that getting the relationship between managers and doctors right is more important than fiddling around with management structures.

“Managers and doctors are always going to have different points of view about the way the NHS should be run,” she says. ¬†

“But the places which succeed are those where they have transcended this and where they see different points of view as a strength.”

Power struggles between doctors and managers are often problematic but can be managed if both sides take an interest in each other’s work, she adds.

“The business of the NHS should be health, not just managing money,” she says.

“The questions they should ask are ‘Are we doing the best for our patients’ and ‘how could we do better’

“In the best places, the chief executives are genuinely interested in the patients. And we know that where there’s a good relationship, clinical outcomes for patients are better.”

University of Leeds

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“The team building aspect is the most important. Over the last three years I have encouraged all of the staff, including doctors, to come to lunch in the common room and the discussion varies from last night’s telly to new admin processes and everything in between. We now have a lovely seating area outside but there hasn’t been an opportunity to use it this year” – Steve Mowatt, Practice Manager

“I have an excellent relationship with our GPs, one salaried doctor, a trainee and various attached staff. We work as a team with a common goal, that of excellent patient care and a desire to always improve. All members of our team are valued for the contribution they make, we could not run the business without them” – Sue Harris, Somerset

“Having regular in house meetings, also going out socially helps you to understand each other’s lifestyle issues. We invite in a clinical psychologist once a year to help us go through some of those more difficult- touchy feely problems that are not easy to deal with without someone getting upset or taking comments out of context. This means that problems or dissatisfaction are not allowed to fester or get out of hand” – Name and address supplied

“I have a lovely relationship with my three doctors’ partners and one salaried. We have regualr meetings and none of us are afraid to give our views. The same goes for the rest of the team. We have just spent three days in Prague as a practice team and the quality of work that comes from¬† our small team is exceptional” – Mrs Wendy Campen, East London