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Practice management support scheme seeks to keep expertise within the profession

by Alice Harrold
30 November 2016

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Retired or part-time practice managers in Wessex have been asked to lend their abilities to other practices that may be in need amid high level of turnover and mergers.

Wessex local medical committees (LMCs) have asked experienced practice managers to offer to work as caretakers (temporary PM) and project managers for other practices in the area.

The LMCs are establishing a list of available practice managers to give out to any practices that request it.

Once the practices are sent the list, it will be up to them to contact the practice managers directly and agree the terms of their coordinated work.

The LMCs have received an increase in requests for support due to raised workloads and demand for projects such as mergers.

“We are very keen to keep as much practice management expertise as possible within primary care as the challenges grow ever tougher and more varied,” Wessex LMCs said in an email to practice managers.

“If you have some capacity to help other practices, perhaps because you are reducing your hours or even retiring, please can you let us know?” they asked.

Managers who have recently experienced a merger are particularly in demand to work alongside others as they go through the same situation.

They may also be asked to manage a practice on a temporary basis (caretaking) while the practice manager working on other projects, is off sick, or a new one is being recruited.

“We’re asking experienced practice managers if they have any time on their hands, to help out somebody else who needs some assistance.

The tasks can be of either an administrative or strategic nature depending on what the practice requires.

 “We’re just getting more and more calls for support at the moment,” education, training and development manager for the LMCs, Louise Greenwood said.

The LMC cited the high level of turnover in practice management nationally as a cause for concern: “we don’t want to lose the expertise and the experience”.

“As with GPs and practice nurses, this is a generational retirement time for many practice managers. A lot of people are retiring now so we have to recognise that as the issue and see how we can make general practice more sustainable for the future”, Louise Greenwood said.

The LCMs also employ six practice manager supporters who are paid to carry out two sessions each a month with local practices. They support new practice managers, or those in need of help and advice, and complement the practice manager/caretaker role.

As soon as the committees are aware of a new practice manager they put them in touch with one of the supporters to offer help both then and throughout their careers.

Louise Greenwood worked as a practice manager in the area for ten years before becoming the education, training and development manager at Wessex LMCs. She initiated the scheme when she spotted that many practices were calling for support. “I would have appreciated this during my time managing a practice.”

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