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by Stuart Gidden
5 September 2007

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Live in London

Have just returned to the office after an exhilarating day at the latest Management in Practice Event, held at Islington’s Business Design Centre in London. Fortunately it’s about a ten-minute walk from our office, so not much travelling required this time!

Which is just as well, considering the disruptive London Underground strike that’s made many of us Londoners feel hot under the collar the last couple of days (and I’m not referring to the humid weather…). But from seeing the busy turnout, most of you obviously overcame any obstacles on the tube!

It was great to see so many of you there. With three separate strands of speaker presentations, the large exhibition hall of primary care providers, plus the irresistible array of cookies and drinks on offer (not to mention the free lunch), there was scope for each delegate to have their own unique experience of the event – so I’ll just share a few of my own highlights.

First mention must go to Roy Lilley, who made a great mark in both his presentation on healthcare management and the afternoon panel session, in which delegates submitted questions for consideration by a group of experts (including Roy).

A natural speaker, Roy achieved the perfect balance between humour and raising serious points – such as expressing his view that primary care needs to change its approach to suit the modern demands of its “customers” – by making opening times more flexible and getting rid of the limitations of patient registration with one GP. The patient list “will have to go”, he said, if primary care is to provide a really first-rate, contemporary service.

Whether you agree or not, you couldn’t fail to be impressed with Roy’s passion and wit (even if I wasn’t quite sure about the need for us all to stand up, holding our shoes aloft, chanting a pledge to get out and speak to patients!).

The panel session likewise combined comedy with insights. When asked by chair Wendy Garcarz what they’d like to preserve from the last 10 years of the NHS, primary care academic Allan Hildon replied: “The moment when Patricia Hewitt remarked that the NHS had had its ‘best year ever’ in front of an audience of nurses and was greeted with a more than frosty response, and the look that then appeared on Miss Hewitt’s face – I’d like to preserve that look.”

I also enjoyed interesting talks on the professional boundaries that should exist in relationships between practice professionals and patients – with particular regards to sexual relationships – as well as practice managers’ role in complying with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

The former raised heated debate among some attendees, who asked: how can practices support the special, personal relationship between a regular patient and their GP if they are worried about crossing boundaries? An interesting area – we’ll be carrying an article on this subject in an upcoming issue of the magazine, and we’ll also be covering the aspects of the DDA that are most significant to you on this very site!

As ever, I do hope that those of you who attended and likewise found something stimulating do drop us a line at mip–[email protected] – we can continue the debate online and get all your views across!

We’re back to the Birmingham NEC on 10 October, where the first Management in Practice Event took place last year. I hope to see you there!

Related MIP Event stories:
NHS wants more GPs to use Choose and Book
Patients should contribute to surgery decisions

Tell us what you liked (or didn’t like) about the London Event. (Please supply your comment, name and location in the feedback box below. Your details will not be published if you request.)

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“Good speakers.Well organized. What I didnt like – food. Simple sandwiches would have been better” – MA Wood, London

“I too really enjoyed the conference on 5 September. Roy Lilley is a tonic that should be at all conferences. I’m a fan of Wendy Garcarz as she is from the West Midlands and I visited her stall (Training 4) and will look into courses for the future. These days, events get you away from the everyday stress and strains of your own surgery. I felt refreshed after speaking to other PMs who like me have their own problems with staff etc. Thank you for the invite” – Name and address supplied

“Hi – thank you for taking the time to comment.  I was very pleased to be with you all and enjoyed your company. Thank you. I tried to make clear the puzzle that faces the modern NHS. You are quite right [see comment below]; the needs of a chronic (often elderly) patient are quite different to that of a younger occassional user. The problem is; it is the younger ‘occasional’ user – the middle classes that politicians seduce to win votes, win elections and win power. That is whom policy makers concentrate on. We are still waiting for the full implementation of the NSF on the elderly and still don’t have a new Mental Health Act. My needs are entirely different to that of my mother, but we share the same doctor, same practice same opening times. I want 7-11, mum wants the corner shop. I want anyone who can do the business, mum wants a friend in the business. The answer? The list system has to go. I can then be seen by whomsoever, whenever, and mum can be seen by her trusted friend. Can we do that?” – Roy Lilley, NHS expert commentator, writer/broadcaster

“As a ‘professional speaker on NHS matters’ he [Roy Lilley] was woefully shortsighted and dangerously subjective. He fails to understand that the views of the least vulnerable of NHS users cannot dictate how the service is run (or how he would like it to be made available to him). I agree that ‘well’ patients have needs too, but working in primary care we also have to care for chronic, serious and terminal illness on a daily basis and this may affect our ability to prioritise his particular needs. He thinks the “money will follow the patient, as it should”. How shortsighted. Health care cannot be allowed to mimic market style economies because it will be at the mercy of all the vagaries of the ‘independent’ media, health fashionista’s and silly fads. How are we to plan care, tackle ill health in areas of high mortality or recruit and fill posts if we are in such a fickle, non-needs based work environment. I have never wanted to work for Tesco’s and don’t believe his model of GP care will serve any one except the loud ‘worried well'” – Name and address supplied

“Roy Lilley has certainly been one of our most controversial speakers yet! As many healthcare professionals will know, Roy has twice been awarded Best Speaker in the NHS. He’s an entrepreneur, independent healthcare analyst, and author (as Management in Practice staff now know, his freestyle rapping is pretty impressive too!) No one gets to that position by pleasing everybody, and lively debate and challenging views are what we should expect from real change makers. Management in Practice Events are the first of their kind – free events for practice managers, attempting to cover a broad range of areas – so we won’t deny we’re still learning, and we value your feedback. We’re grateful to the hundreds of delegates who braved the Tube Strike to join us, the large numbers who nominated Roy their highlight of the day, and those who supplied us with dozens more possible topics – keep writing in. That said, what pleases us most is that almost all of our speakers were nominated as a highlight of the day by the vast ajority of the delegates who completed questionnaires. We have heard the suggestion that Roy was often playing for laughs, and that he strayed from the topic occasionally, nonetheless, please remember that this is YOUR event, and we plan to provide practice managers with more opportunities (like the Panel Session), not less, to shape the debate, and put questions to the experts, who will be different for each event” – Michael Mellor, MIP Events Programme Manager

“Either I was at a different event or my observations are out of kilter with the population at large. I found Roy Lilley to be the lowlight of the event, Joseph Chandy saved the Panel Session. Wendy Garcarz was a breath of fresh air and a great Chair. I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions I attended although “Risky Business” was a bit tame. Great learnings, great networking and an informative group of exhibitors. What made someone think that most people were vegetarians? The small number of lunchbags with chicken were gone in no time. Notwithstanding all this, MIP does a great job of keeping PMs in touch, informed and interested” – Name and address supplied

“I thought that Roy’s presentation was extremely good” – Name and address supplied

“Avoid London as a venue – transport is always a problem at peak times. Just did not fancy fighting the crowds to get there. See you all in Birmingham – great venue” – Flavio Gracias, Yeading Medical Centre

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