Plans to launch a professional register for general practice managers in the UK, along with formal accreditation, must help to remove barriers for inclusion in the government’s New to Partnership scheme, the Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) has suggested.
IGPM has announced that it intends to introduce a formal accreditation process for members of the professional body in May this year.
Jo Wadey, practice business manager in Worthing and an IGPM co-founding director, has suggested to Management in Practice that the new register could allow practice managers to access the New to Partnership Scheme, a golden handshake-style which they have so far been excluded from.
The lack of a professional body or professional registration for practice management was said to be a barrier for entry to the scheme, but both of these barriers will soon be removed, she suggested.
The golden handshake-style scheme, which is currently under review, offers GPs and some other professional groups working in a primary care who wish to become practice partners a £20k payment and further funding for training.
Ms Wadey said: ‘The IGPM was set up partly in response to comments that managers working in general practice did not have a professional body or mechanism for professional registration. This was listed as a key barrier excluding us from the New to Partnership Scheme.
‘In 18 months, we have formed this professional body, and are now recognised by the RCGP, BMA, GPC and their counterparts in the devolved nations as the professional body for general practice management. We have over 1,000 paid members who support our work to raise the profile and standing of the profession.
‘Our accreditation process led by our IGPM Director, Robyn Clark, and Professor James Kingsland (IGPM Board Member), is due to be launched in May 2022. This will ensure that practice managers have a formal process for accreditation which we hope can then facilitate their inclusion in the New to Partnership scheme – as they will be on a professional register.’
The ‘pivotal’ role of practice managers as ‘the backbone’ of general practice should be recognised, at a time when many in the sector are thinking of leaving their roles, she argued.
‘Practices could not run without us. However, over 55% of respondents to our recent survey stated that they were thinking about leaving the profession. This poses a real operational crisis if we don’t act now and recognise the pivotal role we play,’ she continued.
‘Accreditation and professional registration must be a priority. Our members tell us that being offered partnership is frequently now seen as the pinnacle of their career progression and something to aspire to in recognition of the role they perform.
‘Our members who are managing partners, and the GP partners they work alongside, already tell us how their role has brought stability to their practice, improved staff retention and recruitment, and increased efficiencies and productivity.’
Currently, 12 professional groups are eligible for the New to Partnership scheme, which runs to March 2023 – GPs, nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, physiotherapists, paramedics, midwives, dietitians, podiatrists, occupational therapists, mental health practitioners and physician associations.