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by Valeria Fiore
16 January 2019
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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 Sue Jennings, business partner at Teams Medical Practice in Gateshead and finalist of the General Practice Awards 2018 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 am not sure it has changed that much. I became a practice manager in 2011 and the role has always been a difficult one, balancing many different tasks.
Q. When did you begin as a practice manager and how did you get into the role?
I have worked as a prison officer between 1999 and 2003. In 2003, I became a drugs worker in the community. From the latter, I moved onto managing drug and alcohol services from 2004 to 2008, becoming an area manager for a well-known voluntary sector organisation, the North East Council on Addictions.
In 2008, I took a new job as development manager for the LINK (Local Involvement Network), which helps people have a voice in how health and social care services are developed and managed.
In 2010, I became programme manager with the NHS. I was responsible for setting up an integrated care pilot which worked with general practices looking at how we could bring care closer to home, or to the practices rather than in secondary care.
In 2011, I moved into general practice management and haven’t looked back since.
Q. What are the biggest challenges of being a practice manager today?
I think time, staff, having the right skill mix within the team, patient demand, money, and information overload are some of the biggest challenges.
Q. What do practice managers need most in terms of support and resources?
Practice managers need support from peers and more staff with the right skills to take some of the less complex tasks that would normally fall on practice managers.
Q. What do you find most rewarding about being a practice manager?
I enjoy working with the people and patients that I work with. I have a great team who all want the best for our patients and strive to provide the highest possible care. I am also lucky to be able to work with a great group of practice volunteers, which are patients who enhance everything we do as a practice. I can’t thank them enough for the support that they give to the practice.
Q. How do you see the future of practice management?
I think it will continue to develop and the practice manager will continue to play a pivotal role in a practice, primary care networks and federations.
Q. What do you think you would be doing today if you were not a practice manager?
I would probably cover a management role somewhere in either the voluntary or public sector.
Q. The practice manager role is forever evolving. If you could choose your dream team, what would it look like?
Pretty much like the team that I have now. Everyone in the team is valued for the role that they play at the practice and I think this means that people find their jobs more rewarding and enjoy being a part of a team. We are particularly good as a team and most importantly we pull together when it’s really needed.