More than 700 people discussed plans to create a representative body for practice managers at an online meeting this week.
The proposal, led by a group of practice managers, will now go forward after attendees gave permission for an organisation to be developed on their behalf.
The group plans to hold a second meeting in December, where it will announce a name for the new body and more details on how it will be structured.
Kay Keane, one of the organisers, told Management in Practice: ‘We will set up a single organisation to represent the views of practice managers, much like the organisations that represent GPs, nurses and other professionals in primary care. It was clear that the attendees on the call want us to do this.
‘Organisations like NHS England, the BMA and RCGP need a single organisation to go to for support, advice and views of the people that manage practices, and we need a voice at their table too.’
The campaign has been led by a handful of practice managers, including Ms Keane, who manages a practice in Stockport and is on the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) board; Jo Wadey in West Sussex, who represents the Practice Management Network; Nicola Davies in Cornwall, and Robyn Clark in Bristol.
‘Making a difference’
Ms Keane said the plans follow the ‘busiest year’ for practice managers in ‘the NHS’ 72-year history’ and years of feeling ‘underrepresented’ as a profession.
Practice managers were not included in the £20,000 ‘new to partnership’ scheme, which opened to applications from clinical staff in July – a decision Ms Keane said hit the workforce ‘hard’, particularly as it did not recognise practice management as a profession.
The decision prompted practice managers to write an open letter to the health secretary calling for their immediate inclusion in the scheme. NHS England has since said it will be extended to include them – but has yet to release further details on how and when this might be.
The meeting this week was also an opportunity to discuss how widespread the issues faced by practice managers are, Ms Keane said, after a recent survey found 55% of practice managers are considering leaving their jobs in the next 12 months – an outcome she said would lead to ‘a crisis for general practice’.
Ms Keane said: ‘A group of us, who were particularly passionate about general practice and the importance of the role of all managers and administrative staff, started to talk about how we could make a difference.
‘This really was only a month ago and fired by my new position on the board of the NAPC. It gave us a focus and a voice as the NAPC were happy to host our first open forum.’
She added that this has been ‘one of the most amazing social movements’ that practice management has ever seen and urged other practice managers to get involved.
‘We are practice managers working for practice managers and that will remain at the centre of what we do. We are passionate and loyal to our practices and collectively think it’s the best job in the world,’ she said.
‘We’d encourage all managers in general practice to come and find us on Twitter with the #PMpower and join in the movement.’