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Changes in practice stimulate a healthy flood of discussion

1 March 2006

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Cathryn Bateman
Consultant Editor
E [email protected]

Welcome to the second issue of Management in Practice. I thoroughly hope it is going to be as well received as the first.

We have had some great feedback from readers of the first issue. So thank you to all who took the time to write in with your comments, which were generally very positive. We have had the odd critical query too, which has been just as welcome, ensuring that we are all kept on our toes. We have attempted to take onboard and address such queries, if appropriate.

This edition was a walk in the park compared with the last one (for me anyway – not sure the team at Campden would agree!), as articles have been forthcoming from interested practice managers and other associated parties. In fact, we have been so inundated that we have had to carry some pieces over to the next edition due out in the summer, so apologies if you didn’t get your work in this time, I am sure it will see the light of day in due course … and please keep ’em coming. We all have our own areas of expertise, and if you are like me you won’t get much time to network, so let’s use the magazine as a forum for sharing our expertise.

In with the new …
Hot topics at the moment are the long-awaited changes to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). I must confess that I didn’t see all of the changes coming, but many are certainly as predicted. It’s clear from people I have spoken to that the Department of Health (DH) is pleased that the QOF has achieved what it was established to do, and is happy that the tool does provide an indicator of the level of service being offered within our practices and will continue to develop it for the foreseeable future, despite the huge underestimation related to achievement. So it’s out with the old and in with the new from April.

Fiona Jenkins, a specialist in primary care consultancy and IT services, has provided us with a summary of the changes, along with some pointers for ensuring we have all the angles covered from 1 April. No doubt the system suppliers will keep us waiting a little while before updating their software to accommodate the amendments, which is understandable if we consider the timescales that we are dealing with. A further article on changes to the General Medical Services (GMS) contract is planned for the summer edition of Management in Practice, which explores the progress a little further.

We also delve a little deeper into practice-based commissioning with a useful guide compiled by the editorial team. It would be great if we could follow this up with some reader feedback – do you have innovative ideas that are giving you quick wins – if any – or are we all totally disillusioned?

Another hot topic (as always) is access. Following Tony Blair’s very public blunder on national TV last year, the subject has never been very far away. Patricia Hewitt is certainly keen to turn things around and make the service more accessible for our patients. One forward-thinking PCT has already piloted longer opening hours. Mensah Osei-Asibey is the “8 till 8” project lead at Waltham Forest PCT, London, and supported practices to enable them to lengthen their opening hours to accommodate growing demand. In this issue, Mensah summarises how the project provides a win–win situation for both patients and practices. Is your practice likely to follow suit?

Finally, we finish with a look at a day in the life of Caroline Ironside, the practice manager at Crimond Medical Centre in Aberdeenshire. Caroline provides insight into a very different environment from the university practice that we covered in the first issue. Though what is apparent from her account is that, whatever the difference in location and practice, our jobs are still the same – the only difference being that she is “mad” enough to run a stud farm for horses as well!

Happy reading.