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Practice managers will not be included in new to partnership scheme

by Carolyn Scott
1 October 2021

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A decision has been made to exclude practice managers from the New to Partnership Scheme (NtPS), with an alternative scheme to be devised, NHS England has told practice managers.

NHS England wrote to The Institute of General Practice Managers (IGPM) to confirm their decision not to include practice managers in the scheme, the IGPM shared on Twitter yesterday (30 September).

The letter from NHS England said: ‘NHSEI have been having discussions over the last few months about the development of an offer for practice managers, acknowledging the current gap of provision for non-clinical staff in primary care and the critical role practice managers play.

‘The current position is that we will continue to focus the new to partnership scheme on clinical staff only, and look to develop a specific offer for practice and PCN managers as a group. We want to engage with the practice manager community as we develop this.’

No details of a new offer for practice and PCN managers have been released.

Past medical director for primary care, Dr Nikki Kanani, had previously said that practice managers were being considered for the NtPS scheme.

Speaking to Management in Practice, a spokesperson for the IGPM said they were disappointed at the decision to exclude practice managers from the NtPS.

‘We are disappointed for all those managers who were waiting to join their partnership to access the funding and support that the NtPS offered, many had waited as they were initially included in the plans, and we had been told that it was coming.

‘We want practice managers to be given the equality of opportunity. With the removal of them from the NtPS this has taken away the equality that was previously offered directly from Nikki Kanani.

‘We know that this will not stop practice managers becoming brilliant partners, but we feel that the discrimination towards professionals who happen not to be clinicians can’t be ignored.

‘In some quarters there is a lack of understanding of the important job we are all doing in general practice. GPs know without good managers in practice, practices fail; the CQC know that the management of practices is key, the BMA, GPC and RCGP accept that a practice is only as good as its practice managers. We will continue to ensure that NHS England know this too.’

Practice managers have significant skills to bring practices as partners, said IGPM.

‘Practice managers are the glue that holds practices together, they are the leaders, the fixers, the organisers; we ensure that the whole place works.

‘When a partnership asks a PM to join them it’s a huge honour in itself, this means that the GPs see them as the equal that we are. We are just as much of a professional as anyone with a clinical qualification. While GPs are the experts in clinical skills and management, practice managers can bring their expertise into the partnership, be that around finance, or leadership, patient management, IT systems or data.’

The NtPS, which will end in March 2022, grants up to £20,000 and an on-costs contribution of up to £4,000 to support establishment as a partner, as well as a training fund of up to £3,000 to develop non-clinical partnership skills. Twelve professions are currently eligible for the fund.

Practice managers had been concerned that time was running out to be included in the scheme.

NHS England has been approached for comment.