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by Valeria Fiore
15 August 2018

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How my experience in the RAF helps me as a practice manager

In an interview with Valeria Fiore, practice manager Delyth Moylan tells Management in Practice how she made the switch from working in the RAF to a London-based GP practice in Harley Street

After spending more than 10 years of her life in the Royal Air Force (RAF), Delyth Moylan decided to switch back to civilian life. She left the RAF in May 2014 and moved to London, where she joined NHS 111 as a clinical advisor and later went on to managing three clinics for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

Delyth began working for Dr Tickle, a Harley Street-based general practitioner, in June 2017. She now likes making sure that the practice is ‘all present and correct,’ among other aspects of the job. 

‘I really enjoy the management side of my present job. I like seeing the results of the policies I have introduced, which are the result of my work,’ she says.

Life in the RAF

Delyth joined the RAF in 2002 and completed her medic training in July 2003. She started working in a medical centre in the RAF air base in Odiham, Basingstoke providing healthcare ‘for a fit and younger population of patients’ than you would normally find in a regular NHS medical centre.

In 2009, she joined another medical centre in Shawbury, a village in the West Midlands, where she managed dispensary. But, it was only after eight and a half years that she qualified as a paramedic – in April 2011.

‘I felt it wasn’t a difficult transition, I knew it was linked to what I was doing before as a medic. To be a good paramedic, you need to be a good administrator, your records have got to be accurate,’ she says. 

She first had the opportunity to get started as a practice manager while she was still in the RAF. After qualifying as a paramedic, she went back to work in a medical centre in the RAF Shawbury air base.

She iniitally joined as a junior manager, looking after the practice’s dispensary and the logistics side. ‘While I was there, I got upped to the position of deputy practice manager,’ she says.

Same standards

An RAF medical centre is not much different from any other NHS GP practice, Delyth recalls.

They had GPs, nurses, admin staff, receptionists, and a practice manager. Although they did not have to abide by QOF or get ready for CQC inspections, they decided they still would – it’s the military, they love discipline and compliance, after all.

‘Standards were the same. We didn’t have to attain to QOF, but we used it as a guide. We took a lot from the NHS. Similarly with the CQC, we did not have to have inspections but we would still invite inspectors to check our RAF practices.’

And, believe it or not, the CQC decided to go all the way to Afghanistan to inspect all medical facilities when Delyth was deployed there in 2012.

RAF veteran

Delyth left the RAF in May 2014. She moved to London, where she initially joined the NHS 111 as a clinical adviser and later switched to managing three clinics for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

She became a practice manager a year ago, when she joined Dr Elaine Tickle and started managing her practice, Dr Tickle, which counts around 1,200 patients.

‘At the start, managing a business was quite challenging,’ Delyth confesses. ‘I did not have to do that when I was in the military. In terms of finances, everything was done centrally.

‘Now, I need to look at business development and anticipate loss, I need to explore income streams and I wasn’t taught that in the military. But I tackle any new project methodically.

‘I have been to challenging environments, such as Afghanistan. You dynamically risk assess everything you do,’ Delyth continues. ‘So even now, as a practice manager, I [still do that]. When I look at finances, I ask myself what the potential risk is and how I could mitigate it.’

Mission command

During her time in the RAF, Delyth assimilated a series of values that she continues to apply as a practice manager. One of those is moral courage.

‘If I think something is wrong, I speak up and as a practice manager, I tell everyone around me just to speak up and [let me know] when something is wrong, because we are all there to help each other.

‘In the military, we used to call it mission command. We would all know each other’s jobs so if somebody is taken out of the picture for whatever reason, you don’t have the jenga effect because we all know each other’s roles.’

Delyth Moylan is a practice manager at Dr Tickle, a private GP practice in Central London.