Being a practice manager is a busy job and no easy task. When it comes to running a practice and solving all the issues that occur within it – whether that’s dealing with the finances, getting your team ready for the next CQC inspection or facing aggressive patients, well, as the practice manager, you are the go-to person.
A practice is a small business and like every business, you need a great leader running the show.
Yes, that’s right, the one-stop shop also known as the practice manager is responsible for holding up the practice and ensuring the team feels motivated, that they have a sense of being valued and that they feel supported.
This isn’t a great time for general practice: there are funding issues, workforce shortages, an immense workload and low-staff morale. To keep positive under these circumstances is, quite frankly, tough. But, I think it’s time we get back to basics and remember why, as practice managers, you entered the profession in the first place, what it was that drew you to general practice.
It’s likely that you wanted to make a difference in general practice and provide a high level of care to patients, and this is all still very possible to do.
It’s one of the responsibilities of the practice manager to offer strong leadership in challenging times; practice managers are meant to be the gate-keepers and keep things ticking over.
However, how can practice managers provide amazing leadership skills if they are in fact struggling to cope themselves and are battling immense workload.
Well, it’s not easy but I think it’s vital for practice managers to listen to their staff so they understand the daily struggles they face and understand why certain tasks can’t get completed. Practice managers need to empower and motivate staff when situations feel stressful.
But, in a way, it’s quite simple – one step at a time. Take each day as it comes, and remember that we are all human and we all make mistakes. Talk to your peers, learn from them and take advice from those you respect in more senior roles. This could be the GP in your practice or practice managers with more experience running the show at other surgeries.
Draw on and encourage the skill sets within your team – the GP, the receptionist, administrator, practice nurse, clinical pharmacist and mental health practitioner if you’re lucky enough to have one in your practice; they all have their own unique expertise to offer.
One of the things often I hear from practice mangers is how amazing practice manager support networks and forums are. The praise for them is fab and it’s a resource that all practice managers could benefit from taking full advantage of, if you you’re not already.
With more than 1.3 million people employed by the NHS and millions of patients to take care off, it’s vital that patients are treated well.
But it’s important to remember that in primary care, this is not just the responsibility of the practice manager and as the saying goes, there is no ‘I’ in team work.
So, it’s time to take full advantage of the skills within your team, the resources available and the advice that is out there. And it’s important to remember that we all have a job to complete and targets to hit. Crucially, always remember how it is not the sole responsibility of the practice manager to conquer all the problems that arise within general practice.
Angela Sharda is deputy editor of Management in Practice