Management in Practice is speaking to a series of PMs on the front-line about what being a practice manager means to them.
Reporter Valeria Fiore talks to Nargis Khan, practice manager Lavender Hill Group Practice in Battersea, London about the challenges practice management poses and the future of the profession.
Q. How has being a practice manager changed since you first started out in the profession?
I have been a practice manager for 15 years and seen changes on a yearly basis. However, I would say the red tape is now 90% more burdensome than it was when I first started.
Before, the system was much more centralised, as most of our queries were dealt with by primary care trusts [which were replaced by CCGs in 2013]. We have a good relationship with our CCG but there is only a certain amount of things they can help with. The system is much more fragmented now.
Q. When did you begin as a practice manager and how did you get into the role?
Fifteen years ago, I was in-between jobs due having my son and wanted a part time job until I finished my nurse training. However, thanks to my previous experience of running a community staff agency and my background in healthcare, I was offered a six-month administrator position and later became a practice manager. I have been in the role ever since.
Q. What are the biggest challenges of being a practice manager today?
Juggling everything, there is too much red tape and HR and finance take up a lot of time. It’s like you need a set of different hats and need to keep changing them and how you think.
Q. What do practice managers need most in terms of support and resources?
Good quality staff and adequate funds for staffing – like we did in the old days when we received funding for each position and based on list size.
Q. What do you find most rewarding about being a practice manager?
I enjoy the variety, no one day is the same. You can come in and deal with HR/finance, and then find yourself replacing a lightbulb or unblocking a toilet, or dealing with a patient complaint. On top of that, you have to complete the day to day tasks and attend to contractual requirements.
I am also board member and senior information chief officer at Battersea Healthcare, our GP federation. I would not be able to cover these roles if I wasn’t a practice manager.
Q. How do you see the future of practice management?
It has evolved so much over the years. I am board member of a federation, have completed two diplomas and attended NHS England’s General Practice Improvement Leaders Programme. I think [in the future] we will be working on a wider scale, looking after a few practices rather than just focusing on one, and we will be sharing skills and knowledge.
Q. What do you think you would be doing today if you were not a practice manager?
I would be a mental health nurse. Since I was 17, I’ve worked with mental health patients and found it a very rewarding and challenging job at the same time. I find complex needs and behaviours extremely interesting.
Q. The practice manager role is forever evolving. If you could choose your dream team, what would it look like?
I would choose someone dealing solely with HR to free up time for the practice manager to run the practice and focus on projects. We will need IT literate staff who can deal with some of the complex IT problems.
Nargis Khan is practice manager at Lavender Hill Group Practice in Battersea, London