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Meet the finalists for the prestigious Practice Manager of the Year Award 2022

by Mollie Fraser-Andrews and Julie Griffiths
1 December 2022

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Management in Practice is proud to introduce the shortlisted candidates for the Practice Manager of the Year Award and Receptionist/Reception Team of the Year – both part of the General Practice Awards 2022.

These awards recognise and showcase the incredible hard work, innovation, and dedication of individuals and teams working across the UK in primary care.  A record number of nominations was received this year.

Other awards at the event include GP of the Year, PCN of the Year, Vaccination Service of the Year and many more.

Winners will be announced at a glitzy gala dinner and ceremony in London, which will welcome 700 guests from the GP and primary care community. The host is comedian Shappi Khorsandi, who has appeared on countless TV and radio shows including, Have I Got News For You and Just a Minute.

To get live updates on the results and winners, see the awards’ Twitter page.

We wish all the finalists the very best of luck.

Finalists for Practice Manager of the Year 2022

This award seeks to recognise a Practice Manager who has made an outstanding contribution to their surgery’s performance in the last 18 months.

Val Denton, Practice Manager, East Trees Health Centre, Bristol

Val successfully merged Maytrees and Eastville practices together upon her appointment, during the height of the pandemic in 2020. This involved integrating 57 members of staff and two teams with very different ways of working. She created new roles, such as prescription clerks, and boosted recruitment of trainee nurses and paramedics.

She also transformed the practice’s appointment system, so GPs and clinicians have 15-minute appointments and 24 contacts a day. Her passion for effective care navigation has meant patients have a named GP, strengthening continuity of care. Triage lists are now non-existent.

Val has also helped the practice to become eco-friendly (for which it has won an award).

Tracy Lloyd, Practice Manager, Caistor Health Centre, Lincolnshire

Despite joining the practice just as the country went into its first lockdown, Tracy was instrumental in the roll-out of the Covid vaccine within the PCN, allowing all members of staff to train as administrators or vaccinators to ensure the large elderly population were vaccinated.

Tracy has had a hugely positive effect on staff morale, staff retention and, in turn, patient satisfaction. Her focus on developing staff and encouraging them to train for new roles or try different jobs (one receptionist is now a nursing apprentice) has dramatically lowered attrition and improved moral beyond recognition. With staff more motivated, patient complaints are now rare.

Colleagues value Tracy’s effective management and support, and her emphasis on putting patients at the heart of everything the practice offers.

Cheryl Simon, Practice Manager of Whitestone Surgery, Nuneaton

Cheryl’s practice has been noticed by both the media and Parliament, through her innovative solutions to improve social prescribing for patients, which the surgery introduced long before it became a requirement and led to a 50% decrease in the use of antidepressants.

She proudly kept her practice open for face-to-face appointments during the Covid-19 pandemic (following appropriate triage), in line with the practice’s ethos: ‘The Patient first and always’.

Cheryl also has a deep understanding of the local population’s and community needs. This is seen in initiatives such as ‘Happy Health and Involved’ ­­– a collaborative effort with Warwickshire County Council to better health and wellbeing services.

Judith Taylor, Head of General Practice, and Kevin Doran, Assistant Head of General Practice, Sunderland GP Alliance, Tyne and Wear

This is a joint nomination for two managers who oversee three GP contracts and five sites within the GP federation, Sunderland GP Alliance.

With efficiency and superb organisation, Judith and Kevin have implemented at scale working and streamlined processes into hubs to reduce duplication of work. Separate teams have been created for QOF, medical secretaries, IT workflow, medicines management and supporting patients.

The pair have a strong community approach, for example, setting up a ‘Youth PPG’ for 13 to 16-year olds to discuss health topics important to them in a confidential way and to connect to younger patients needing support.

Martin Turner, Practice Manager and PCN Manager at Staveleigh Medical Centre, Cheshire

Despite not working in healthcare before, Martin has demonstrated a passion for improving health services in Stalybridge, which led to his appointment as PCN manager for 9 practices last year.

Some of his achievements include creating a homelessness project, introducing a local version of a 111 scheme to reduce calls to GP practices and hospital admissions, and rolling out a collaborative intranet system for the entire PCN.

After bringing in a new phone system and enhancing organisational processes, the average phone wait time for patients was cut from more than 20 minutes to less than two minutes, an improvement of 90%

Finalists for Receptionist/Reception Team of the Year 2022

This award seeks to recognise a receptionist or reception team that is making an outstanding contribution to their practice and its patients.

Cognacity Admin Team, London

This close-knit team demonstrated their dedication during the pandemic. At a time when there was a rise in mental health referrals, it transformed an entirely face-to-face service into a virtual practice within a day, so patients could continue to access the mental health support they needed.

Team members worked from home, staggered shifts, and endured tube and train strikes to keep services running. They took in their stride the additional work caused by the increased patient contacts.

And when one of the team sadly took his own life, devastated colleagues rallied round. They arranged daily and weekly support forums and created WhatsApp groups to ensure they were there for one another.

Havergal Surgery Reception Team, London

One of the great strengths of this reception team is its diversity, which enables it to focus on excellent customer service. The six team members come from different backgrounds and speak various languages, helping them support patients whose English may be limited.

Team members also use their diverse strengths to help each other when problems arise, which is inevitable in reception. Together, they manage patients who present with difficulties in a calm level headed way; even resolving tricky situations so well that often patients end up being apologetic. These incidents can result in a stronger patient-practice relationship. 

Health Care First reception team, West Yorkshire

This team has faced a series of big changes that began in 2019 with the successful merger of seven practices.  Since then, the reception team has significantly contributed to a major change project at the practice. Following a review of patient access, a new operating model was implemented to address patient priorities: long wait times when phoning the practice and appointment availability for non-urgent issues.

Now the average time to answer calls is less than 10 minutes, a fraction of the 50 minutes it used to be. The reception team responds to all non-urgent clinical queries using online messaging within two hours. With call queues down, and improved care navigation helping to increase clinical capacity, freeing up more appointments, staff morale and patient satisfaction levels have soared in the past 12 months.

Dr GT Hendow Surgery Medical Receptionist Team, Hull

Communication is the key to this reception team’s success. All receptionists work part-time but take ownership of their roles and feel genuine responsibility for patient care. As well as ensuring effective handovers, they regularly communicate outside of working hours. They’ll ring/message one another to check that follow-ups are actioned and keep abreast of the outcomes.

The team prides itself on its personal touch with patients too. There are no allocated times for when they can call in to order prescriptions or ask about blood tests. Instead, the ethos is: ‘If a patient has a problem, they can call anytime. We are here to help’.  Patient queries are dealt with promptly, with team members getting back to a patient with an answer within 24 hours. In the recent GP patient survey, 100% of patients said that they found receptionists at the practice helpful.

Killick Street Health Centre Reception Team, London

The team excels in its support to patients at the practice; over the years, it has built very strong relationships with them. During the pandemic, the reception team often called on the most vulnerable patients to check on them and visited them if they couldn’t make contact.

Their support extends to new team members too. The clinical team has expanded over the last few years to include pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, physician associates, and paramedics. Successful integration of these new roles – and implementation of new processes that came with them – wouldn’t have been possible without the team’s adaptability and support.

Lawson Practice Reception Team, London

Post-Covid, the reception team faced the challenge of fewer GPs than before the pandemic and higher demand from patients. As the job increasingly involved finding limited patient slots, the reception role was rebranded as ‘patient navigators’. This reflects the knowledge and quick thinking needed to help navigate patients to an appropriate clinician rather than asking patients to call back the next day.

Adopting a data-driven approach to their work has reduced frequent attendees (through effective and timely triage) and driven down call wait times. The team has also maintained a key practice goal of GP continuity.

Wendy Lovett, Patient Support Team Manager, Bosmere Medical Practice, Havant    

Wendy’s innovative restructuring of the reception and admin teams has transformed the practice and revolutionised staff development.  Previously, admin and reception worked as two separate teams. Now, there is one combined Patient Support Team with all members capable of delivering core services. Staff can be deployed at short notice wherever they’ll be most effective, making the practice more resilient and keeping patient services running smoothly at all times.

Wendy’s inclusive approach to staff training accounts for different needs and ambitions. Rather than assuming everyone wants to progress, the training matrix enables those keen to develop their skills without pressuring those who don’t wish to further their careers.