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by Isabel Shaw
17 December 2019
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As part of our new series on wellbeing, reporter Isabel Shaw asks practice manager Edward Poole how he relaxes outside of work
To mark the launch of our wellbeing in practice initiative, which aims to shine a light on how practice managers can achieve a better work-life balance, we’ve been speaking to practice managers around the country to see how they do it.
Management in Practice spoke to Edward Poole, a newly appointed practice manager at Brunswick Park Medical Practice and vice-chair membership of the Labour party in Enfield North.
Having recently taken a week off work to campaign for the Labour party during the 2019 election, Mr Poole spoke of the difficulties of balancing his role as a practice manager alongside being an activist. He also discussed the seemingly endless nature of the job and his plans to adopt two puppies.
What do you enjoy most about being a practice manager?
Contributing towards the healthcare and care of people in need – there are not many more important or more satisfying jobs.
My job is constantly varied and things are always going on. We’re quite a forward-thinking practice – we’re currently training up secondary-care nurses to work in primary care and we’re also upskilling our receptionist to become a medical assistant. We’re advancing people in their careers, so it’s quite a nurturing environment, which I really like.
How do you balance being vice-chair membership of the Labour party in North Enfield alongside being a practice manager?
To balance the workload I’m going to quit the current position I have in the Labour party, but maybe I’ll run for local council again in the future. I’d need to be working a four day week for that, so that one day of the week I could actually be a local councillor. Maybe in the future, when I’m more established and if we have a different management structure in the primary care network, I could afford to take one day a week off. We’ll see.
I’m not particularly attached to the position I currently have in the Labour party, but I’d really like to run for local council again in the future. I’d need to be working a four day week for that so that one day of the week I could actually be a local councillor. Maybe in the future, when I’m more established and if we have a different management structure in the primary care network, I could afford to take one day a week off.
What is the most stressful thing about being a practice manager?
It’s so varied and it’s constantly changing. I receive around 50 emails a day, a lot of which contain 100-page documents from the NHS that I have to read and comprehend fully, and these really are endless. I think in primary care we don’t have much say in the overall picture – decisions are made in our absence above CCG level.
What do you do to relax?
I actually really enjoy gaming, so that helps me to switch off. I also watch films with my wife quite a bit and we’re going to be adopting two puppies soon. Although that will probably turn out to be more stressful than relaxing!
How do you reduce work-related stress?
One of the things I’m trying to get better at is time management and prioritising to try to always make time for the tasks I’m working on to do them properly.
I also try to keep up and understand all the changes that are going on within the NHS.
Do you think more help could be provided to practice managers to reduce stress?
Yes, currently I do feel like I’m many departments all in one, I’m HR, I’m IT, I’m legal and so it would be better if we had more people working in general practice to take some of the burden.
I think we could get a lot more support formally, in terms of practice management being a recognised and standardised role and supporting roles for that being more recognised and standardised, too. We should have IT managers or other admin staff who have recognised qualifications.
What is your biggest achievement?
Keeping up with everything and settling into my role and getting to the stage I am at now. I feel like I’ve sort of got this under control, that’s an achievement for any practice manager coming into general practice right now. Getting all the different aspects and departments you run under control, knowing that your fire safety is okay, that the pensions are sorted out and that you have enough appointments next week. Just learning to cope with all that and manage it is a great achievement.
We’d like to hear from you. Let us know how you practice wellbeing by using the hashtag #WellbeinginPractice on our Facebook and Twitter channels