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by Liz Saunders
19 November 2008

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Networking – one of our most valuable resources

In my role as training and development consultant, I meet a large number of practice managers. One of the things that strikes me about the groups I deliver training to is the diversity of their roles.

There are some who, in my opinion, hold the practice reins firmly in their hands. And there are others who, through no fault of their own, function only to a certain level, and then there are those who I feel are only administrating. I see this wherever I go.

I have recently delivered training on income sources in general practice to a group just like this. During the course of the day, there was a tremendous amount of interaction between the learners. They shared ideas, information, projects they were hoping to develop and some of their disappointments, too.

By the end of the day, they really had formed an innovative network, which I hope they will maintain in the future. They had recently been part of an amalgamation of local health boards and were able to share their concerns and worries regarding this in frank and open discussion.

The members reassured each other; they listened with understanding and empathy to the problems they were trying to deal with while maintaining quality services to patients who, no doubt, had no idea of the working pressures the practices were experiencing.

By the end of the afternoon, the group was in high spirits. They had exchanged telephone numbers and email addresses, and one or two members had agreed to visit other practices and share ideas and skills to assist the development of a newly appointed manager.

The feedback was excellent and I was proud to be part of this. I think sometimes we are so busy we forget what a wealth of knowledge and skills we have in our peers, and what we can achieve through networking.

Sometimes it is difficult to find the time to do this, as we are all so busy trying to cover all the bases. But as this group of practice managers demonstrated, just six hours of networking together meant that they could go back to their practices and make a difference.