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One in four practice managers planning to leave the NHS

18 November 2016

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Over half of GP practice managers feel they are significantly overloaded and more than a quarter are actively looking to leave the NHS, new data has revealed.

The UK-wide survey of 439 practice managers has shown that 97% feel they are overloaded. 51% said they felt ‘significantly’ overloaded, while just 1.9% of respondents said they weren’t struggling with workloads.

Over a quarter (27%) of respondents revealed they are actively planning to leave the NHS while 41% said they are ‘significantly’ overloaded but said that they will “stay and struggle on”.

Practice Index, a directory of GP service providers, asked respondents why they felt their workloads were unbalanced. The overwhelming majority of responses, noted an “ever-increasing bureaucratic burden” being placed on practices by the NHS and a “lack of consultation when introducing new processes”.

“The practice manager career is becoming less and less attractive, so practices can’t afford to lose them. It’s a ticking time bomb that needs attention,” said James Dillon, managing director of Practice Index. “The NHS needs to pull together to do something to reduce the admin strain, before it’s too late,” he added.

Respondents to the poll showed concern that the issue tends to go under the radar in the media compared to GP shortages or secondary care workloads.

One practice manager told Practice Index: “Overload was my problem, so I found a brilliant assistant PM. Now we are both swamped! I’ve never had so many admin staff and receptionists but they are swamped too.

“The problem is, every time we get on top of things, something happens to push us back, such as IT failures, staff sickness, sudden arrival of long lost records from Capita, a rush of registrations and so on. My team are so dedicated and flexible – but at some point the elastic will snap!”

Another PM said: “The problem is, practice managers never have support. We’re overloaded with tasks one after another. Whatever a GP is asked to do, it falls onto us, the overloaded PM, to do. There are too many bosses in the NHS so one hand does not know what the other is doing.”

Dillon said: “Practice managers are a vital component of primary care provision yet, as this survey reveals, we risk losing over a quarter from the NHS due to the overwhelming workloads and unprecedented stress levels they’re experiencing.

“Burnout of all staff – not just GPs – is a real concern for practices up and down the country. After all, practices really couldn’t survive without practice managers.”

Practice Index is a directory of GP service providers that helps practice managers and surgery decision makers to find well-rated companies to work with. Over 8,500 out of 9,800 UK practice managers (more than 85%) are members of the directory service. The organisation ranks companies according to feedback and reviews left by NHS professionals.