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Practice managers urged to make their voices heard

11 October 2007

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Practice managers need to stand up and be counted if they want to have their say on government policy and the future of primary care.

That was the resounding message at yesterday’s Management in Practice Event at the Birmingham NEC. During the Question Time-style panel session, one practice manager asked: “Government policy is rolled out, it seems, without any consultation with practice managers. Does the panel think it would be possible to arrange involvement in the policy process? We need our voice, and common sense, to be heard.”

Chair Wendy Garcarz applauded the question and urged practice managers to make their opinions heard. With issues such as GP opening hours and the encroaching involvement of the private sector in primary care, she warned managers that the landscape of general practice is changing rapidly, and practice managers needed to ensure that they wouldn’t be ignored in the face of oncoming change.

Changes in primary care will inevitably have an effect upon the demands of practice management. One delegate said: “the role of the practice manager is constantly changing as a reflection of changes taking place in primary care – many practice managers have different roles to those of their counterparts. Will there ever be a standardised job description for a practice manager?”

Jill Burke, Director of Insight Solutions, a training and consultancy company for primary care, felt that a standardised job description was unlikely. “It should be up to practice managers to define what their role should be,” she added.

The session ended with Chair Wendy Garcarz warning: “We’re looking at the future of practice management arriving at our doorstep without being prepared for it.”

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
“Until recently I was working 37.5 hours a week. My GP decided to cut them down to 33, but the work keeps piling up and I end up working overtime. Decisions are being made, agreements are being signed and I’m left with the aftermath of dealing with all the queries and figures needed.  I agree totally with the previous comments, I enjoy the job but the demands are endless” – Name and address

“There is no question that we are being left out but so, in effect, are the GPs who the government may consult but then ignore what is being said to them. It is time that the government left the GPs to continue to maintain an excellent service without having to spend valuable resource jumping through hoops and ticking boxes. These resources could be used more effectively in improving the service to patients” – Allan M Stewart, Wirral

“One day I was galvanised into action. I contacted our local MP, Geoff Hoon, asking him to come along for a visit and see what we had to contend with. To my surprise, he agreed. However, what a waste of a few hours (a one hour visit and a previous inspection of the premises by his armed police guard and driver). In preparation, I produced a ring binder with dividers and just a small sample of supporting paper work in each section. This consisted of Choose and Book problems, QOF, DES, etc, there were 17 sections, the file was full. He took this away and said: “I will never get time to read all this.” I didn’t expect that, just a quick perusal on the issues. The LMC were also invited to attend, which they did. He spent the allocated one hour with us, went away with the file and I have heard nothing since. Politicians outside of the NHS remit do not have an idea of the demands put on us. He told me about his big new local surgery, and when I asked if it was a LIFT building he didn’t understand. I don’t want to sound defeatist, but if they won’t listen to the doctors they certainly won’t listen to us”Name and address supplied