This site is intended for health professionals only

Management in Practice Awards 2009 – and the winners are …

17 December 2009

Share this article

IM&T Award winners:
Haughton Thornley Medical Centres, Hyde
The enterprising team at Haughton Thornley Medical Centres, a two-surgery, 12,000-patient practice in Greater Manchester, won the Information Management and Technology Award, sponsored by iQ Medical, for setting up a new patient web portal and integrated intranet that has informed and empowered its patients.

The web portal – – not only provides general information on services to its patients, but also features expert blogs (on issues such as self-care and health promotion), feedback opportunities for patients and links to the latest healthcare news stories.

The portal, set up in 2008 and developed in conjunction with interactivHealth plc, was judged to have far exceeded the standard of most practice sites, to the extent that it has succeeded in the practice’s aim for its patients to be “active partners” feeding back to the practice with their ideas and opinions so that its services can be continually improved.

The strong patient involvement was apparent at the awards ceremony, at which Margaret Rickson, an 81-year-old patient at the practice spoke of the “excellent service” of the website, which GP Dr Amir Hannan said she uses regularly to book appointments, order prescriptions and access her GP record as well as health information.

Glen Griffiths, CEO of interactivHealth, said: “We worked closely with Dr Hannan, the practice team and patients to provide ‘trusted links’ to healthcare information and a range of services all under one roof. Day-to-day maintenance of the portal is minimal, and the site is refreshed automatically on a daily basis. Staff also have password access to in-house information.”

The website receives more than 2,000 visits per month, and between 6,000-7,000 page views per month. It contains content written by patients and staff, as well as local, PCT, regional, national and international content appropriate for the needs of the patient population.

Fiona Lawson, Director of primary care IT experts Insight Solutions and a member of the judging panel, said: “It was very heartening to see the standard of the entrants of this award. Haughton Thornley Medical Centres really have embraced technology for the benefit of patients, the practice and the health of the community as a whole.”

Dr Hannan told Management in Practice: “There’s so much information out there for patients now via the web – but much of it comes from sources that aren’t trustworthy. We know that patients trust their doctor more than anyone else – and this led us to the idea of developing a GP practice website that would be a central place for trusted patient information.”

Patrick Jordan, Practice Manager of Thornley House Medical Centre, one of the practice’s two surgeries, said: “The website enables patients to take responsibility for their own conditions by finding out the information they need. I think our patients now feel more in control of their own health as a result.”

“One of the beauties of general practice is its entrepreneurialism,” said Dr Hannan. “I think general practice could well be the model that moves patients towards an online means of healthcare information.”

Mr Jordan added: “The recognition from this award is fantastic because it’s proof that what we’ve been doing is appreciated by other people. As more people become aware of what can be done online then we expect demand to increase further.”

The IM&T Award was sponsored by medical software management specialists iQ Medical:

Design and Facilities Award winners:
Cwm Gwyrdd Medical Centre, Wales
The eco-friendly Cwm Gwyrdd Medical Centre in Gilfach Goch, Wales, was named the winner of the Design and Facilities Award, sponsored by GP premises specialists Clark Weightman.

Long before the practice’s official opening in February 2009 by the Welsh Assembly Health Minister Edwina Hart, the design and delivery of an integrated and modern primary care facility had been identified as an urgent need for the Gilfach Goch community, placed in the top 5% of the most deprived electoral divisions.

The new practice building has since succeeded in promoting patient and staff wellbeing, supporting effective and safe treatment delivery, improving attendance rates and providing the capacity to atttract and retain a viable workforce.

Flexibility of design was a key concept for the £2.25m construction of the Cwm Gwyrdd Medical Centre, with the site allowing for partitions to be removed or added and for further expansion of the building at ground and first-floor level.

Environmental objectives were also high on the practice’s agenda – the building’s design maximises natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting, and the use of renewable energy reduces reliance on traditional gas and electric requirements.

The construction of the 1,800m² contemporary building involved key stakeholder involvement (including representatives from two local practices) and community consultation (focusing on enhancing the locality and generating civic pride), and was delivered ahead of schedule.

Practice Manager James Bull said: “Having worked in an older building for a long time, the chance to work somewhere so modern and unique is a massive plus.

“We feel privileged to work in the building, which gives the GPs and staff a proper, modern working environment. But the biggest change is for the patients who have a fantastic new building, of which they can be proud.”

The Design and Facilities Award was sponsored by commercial property advisers Clark Weightman:

HR and Training Award winners:
Avicenna Medical Practice, Bradford
An increase in staff motivation and the successful creation of a multidisciplined practice team led to practice manager Sarah Rhodes and senior receptionist Michelle Tempest from Avicenna Medical Practice in Bradford winning the HR and Training Award.

Ms Rhodes devised a specialised staff matrix, for the practice administrative and reception team, to identify training requirements. She then devised training sessions on specific areas of practice. These proved hugely successful and enabled a multidisciplinary workforce to develop, increasing staff morale and teamwork.

Staff sickness levels have also decreased, says Ms Tempest, as staff now feel valued, having “been given opportunities to shine by themselves, by showing what they can do”.

Furthermore, the practice has improved staff terms and conditions, with an increase in annual leave allowance and the implementation of an attendance bonus scheme.

Results of the GP Patient Survey this year support the view that services have improved – the number of patients who rated reception staff “good” or “excellent” increased from 84% to 92% this year. The practice is now working towards achieving the Investors in People award.

Debbie Bodhanya, Executive Director of Limes Medical Centre in Epping, the winner of the 2008 MiP Practice of the Year Award, was one of the judges of the HR and Training Award, and presented the winners with their £250 prize.

“I truly believe that training and HR is at the centre of any good practice,” she said. “It was lovely to see people have taken the time out to think about how training and development feed into the practice and also showed a real appreciation of the individual needs of the team.”

Ms Rhodes said: “I am immensely proud of my team as they have come together to pride themselves on good work and achieving targets, even when under pressure.”

Business Management Award winners:
Colchester PBC Group
Colchester Practice-Based Commissioning (PBC) Group won the Business Management Award, sponsored by Away From My Desk, for developing the “PulseBeat” scheme. This involved commissioning a network of 37 GP practices in north-east Essex to take the pulse of every patient over 65 attending for their flu vaccination, with the aim of identifying people with atrial fibrillation (AF), a strong risk factor for stroke.

The idea was put forward by Dr Max Hickman, Chair of the Colchester PBC Group, after he became aware of a Bedford surgery that had detected three new cases of AF by screening patients attending for their flu vaccination.

One in six strokes are thought to be caused by AF. Published research suggests a large number of patients with AF have no symptoms and are therefore not diagnosed.

Since stroke is a cause of significant disability and death in north-east Essex – partly because of a more elderly population – Colchester PBC Group decided to implement the PulseBeat scheme across the primary care trust. This took place over six weeks during the 2008 flu vaccination campaign.

The scheme was a huge success. “We detected 249 new cases of AF which hadn’t been diagnosed previously,” said Dr Shane Gordon, Chief Executive of Colchester PBC Group and GP at Tiptree Medical Centre in Essex. “We estimate from published figures that by treating those patients we will prevent approximately nine strokes in the next year.”

The project was not only a great success for patient outcomes, but it also proved to be highly cost-effective, with a return on investment of more than 400%.

“I think this is such a simple and effective project that it ought to be rolled out across the country,” said Dr Gordon. “Dr Campbell Cowan, National Clinical Lead for Arrhythmias at NHS Improvement, calculated that if this scheme was rolled out nationally it could prevent up to 900 strokes a year.”

Dr Gordon believes the potential of PBC should not be overlooked. He said: “There are enormous opportunities to improve quality of care. The beauty of this project is its simplicity – it’s an easy thing to do, but finding these cases can have a huge impact in terms of saving lives. The power of PBC is to identify these simple changes and be able to bring them about.”

He added: “Everybody at the PBC Group is delighted with the award. We all worked very hard on the project – to win a prestigious award like this is very gratifying for all our efforts.”

The Business Management Award was sponsored by remote access systems specialists Away From My Desk:

Practice of the Year and Customer Care Award winners:
Upton Surgery, Worcestershire
Upton Surgery in Worcestershire proved a major success at the Management in Practice Awards 2009. The 10,700-patient practice was not only named Practice of the Year, winning the focal award sponsored by Wyeth Vaccines recognising all-round excellence in practice management and service delivery, but in addition won the Customer Care Award, sponsored by Footprint Telecom.

The Upton upon Severn practice was judged to have excelled in patient services by offering an array of patient-focused initiatives supporting healthy lifestyles and self-care projects, as part of a five-year strategic plan for the surgery.

Initiatives the practice has launched include:

  • A weekly short walks programme led by a practice nurse as part of a weight-loss clinic.
  • A referral scheme to the nearby town where 64 patients have started individual activity programmes, including exercise programmes and a strength and balance programme for patients at risk of falls.
  • Onsite mental-health services.
  • A Case Management Project, providing a multi-agency team offering guidance and support to patients experiencing a crisis due to acute ill-heath.
  • A weekly postnatal group run by a child health visitor.
  • Six-week “X-Pert” patient group courses that support and educate patients with diabetes.

The practice took a proactive approach to patient engagement, as Practice Manager Philippa White explained. “We’ve targeted our patients and have written to them, inviting them to these services. The uptake has been really successful.”

Dr Paul Bunyan, a GP Partner at Upton Surgery, said that initiatives such as the short walks programme also had a positive effect on patient participation. “It’s brought patients closer to the surgery in a way, and they feel more part of it, more involved,” he said.

As with other award-winning projects this year, the idea of preventative health has also been important to the practice. “This is all about Upton Surgery developing as a Healthy Living Centre,” said Philippa White. “So it’s more than just a surgery people go to when they’re ill; it’s very much where you go when you’re well, in order to stay well.”

Practice Management Consultant Fiona Dalziel, one of the award judges, said: “All practices were really put through their paces, so for anyone to have got this far is a huge achievement. What we ended up doing to identify the Practice of the Year Award was to ask ourselves: ‘Which of the practices would we really like to be patients with?’ All were good, but Upton Surgery came out as superior.”

Collecting the award, Philippa White said: “This is for all the people at the surgery who aren’t here today, who are back at the ranch, working really hard for all these types of initiatives.”
She praised her team for delivering high-quality patient services throughout the year, and described winning the award as the “the icing on the cake”.

“Of course, it’s not just us,” she added. “There are hundreds and hundreds of unsung hero practice managers and teams up and down the UK, all doing really good things.”

The Customer Care Award was sponsored by telephony solutions provider Footprint Telecom:

The Practice of the Year Award was sponsored by Wyeth Vaccines: