The British Medical Association (BMA) has confirmed its support for the new practice manager body, the Institute for General Practice Management (the IGPM).
The IGPM announced on Twitter last month (22 January) that it would be providing the BMA with a panel of practice managers and ‘working together moving forward’.
Kay Keane, practice manager at Alvanley Family Practice in Stockport and one of the founding members of the new representative body, told Management in Practice last week (27 January) that the new ‘virtual panel’ of practice managers will be used to gain ‘important insight’ into practice manager views and ‘tap into our areas of expertise’.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘Practice managers are the unsung heroes of general practice, playing a pivotal role in keeping practices running and ensuring patients get access to the care they need, and the BMA supports the creation of a group that represents and supports them.’
Ms Keane said the IGPM has also received support from NHS England.
‘We have support from the BMA, NHS England and Improvement and the GPC, we have spoken to senior leaders across those services and had appointments in January to speak with Scotland and Wales Health services,’ she told Management in Practice.
‘They recognise that an organisation that is independent and not for profit is needed to represent all managers in practice.’
‘Keep momentum going’
This comes after more than 700 practice managers met in November (2020) to discuss plans to set up the new representative body and achieve professional registration.
Formation of the body is being led by four practice managers, Robyn Clark, of Kingswood Health Centre in Bristol, Jo Wadey of St Lawrence Surgery in Worthing, Nicola Davies of Roseland Surgeries in Cornwall, and Ms Keane.
The group have had ‘overwhelming support’ for the IGPM so far, Ms Keane said, and had almost 200 people virtually attend their inaugural meeting in December.
Next steps for the organisation include lining up some volunteers to act as regional representatives, for which they have already had 50 people express interest – as well as getting more GPs and local medical committees (LMCs) on board.
‘We asked if anyone would like to volunteer to be regional reps or those with a special interest and even at this horribly busy time, we have had lots of volunteers come forward, all with the same drive as us that this must happen,’ Ms Keane said.
She added: ‘We just need to keep the momentum going, which is hard without any funding and with the four of us having day jobs, but we will do this. We are determined to be heard.’
Jo Wadey, practice business manager at St Lawrence Surgery in Worthing, told Management in Practice: ‘The things that are important to us are that the organisation is always led by a majority of people who are currently practice managers, that will mean that those at the top understand exactly what the members are experiencing.
‘Although people in other parts of the health service and in commercial organisations can empathise, there really isn’t anything like being the role.’
Nicola Davies, practice manager at the Roseland Surgeries in Cornwall, said: ‘I have worked in general practice for 36 years and this is long overdue – practice managers and all those non-clinical staff with leadership responsibilities in general practice deserve to be heard.
‘The IGPM promise that the views of the members will always be the most important part of our constitution. We are professionals and it’s time we were recognised for the incredible job we do in all four nations of the UK.’
Robyn Clark, practice manager at Kingswood Health Centre in Bristol, added that the IGPM will ‘never be an organisation that makes profits’ and everything it does will be led ‘by practice management, for practice management’.
The IGPM has already been speaking out on issues that impact practice managers, including the change to the dosing schedule for the Pfizer vaccine, and practices facing ‘jammed’ phone lines after an announcement to extend vaccinations to the over 70s appeared to reach the public before staff on the ground.
NHS England has been approached for comment.