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Being receptive to change is beneficial

27 March 2009

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Welcome to the Spring 2009 issue of Management in Practice. As regular readers will observe, this magazine has a new look! We’ve aimed to update the style of the magazine while retaining the recognisable MiP look. I hope you like it.

Well, what a busy old time it has been over the last few weeks, with so many targets and deadlines to achieve. Yet much of that has passed me by – or rather, it is passing me by, as I currently feel like I’m on one of those roller coasters you desperately want to stop and get off of, but you don’t because of the rush of adrenaline you get when whizzing around.

This is because I had a reality check and, after years in the wilderness as a back-office girl, I finally confronted my fears and worked in reception! We are a fairly large practice, some 20 doctors strong – times that by a thousand and you get the patient base. So we’re constantly on the go, as at times it seems that all 20,000 come in at once.

Now, I appreciate many of you do this as part of your daily routine, but I never have, because our management structure was such that I was tucked away from the frontline and a team manager absorbed all of the knocks – and she genuinely did. Our team manager is still with us but has moved on to a new role within the practice. To add to this, our new reception supervisor was in and out within the space of a month (she came with a secondary care background and found primary care wasn’t quite what was anticipated).

So here I am at reception and, despite the fact that its now early March at the time of writing and I still haven’t got our patient survey completed (more on that later), haven’t written our practice-based commissioning business plan for next year (which starts in three weeks’ time) and still have 100 Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) points to find, I am having a really good time.

I am exhausted (and I’m sure I look exhausted) but it’s exhilarating to get back to the coalface and appreciate what we are in business for: our patients. The icing on the cake, earlier this week, was when one older fellow and his elderly charge, who I’m sure was very poorly, came into our surgery in an emergency and waited a good hour to be seen. They were so appreciative of the care and attention they received.

I could hear them chatting to each other. They didn’t grumble about the wait – they were last on the list of at least 50 at our lunchtime emergency surgery – but were grateful to get the opportunity to see the doctor. And they were so complimentary to me! “What a lovely young receptionist,” they said, “A really nice girl, so helpful.” Well, I did say they were elderly so I probably did seem young to them! But what a thrill that gave me.

Forget the shuffling of papers – oh, I know it needs to be done and it will be, but I will make time to get involved in the real world too, because that’s what keeps us grounded and keeps us passionate about the job that we do.

Needless to say, our experience with the reception supervisor left us feeling a little shortchanged. Our staff have chosen not to replace the supervisor and have trusted me to guide them directly (despite the fact I accidentally cut numerous patients off on our antiquated switchboard). For me, this is a real sense of achievement, but I shall need training!

What about the patient surveys? As you know, we have to pay for these. A practice our size needs to return roughly 550 in order to meet the QOF indicator. However, despite the fact that we have been running our survey since November, we have still not completed it.

I can only put this down to the naughty survey fairy, as for some reason the questionnaires keep disappearing and, despite my emails to doctors and staff begging them to check all of their hiding places, they have failed to reappear. Therefore, at a further cost (£10 for each of the additional 20 survey forms) I ordered some more. Today we were on the last lap and just about to post them off first-class when I spotted where the naughty survey fairy had left them – in the shredding bin! Needless to say, there have been no confessions yet. Perhaps the culprits were put off by the hooks on my wall …

Here’s hoping you all achieve your targets, as I am sure you all have similar stories to tell.

Enjoy the spring issue.