Primary care experts predict the most pressing issues facing practices this year – and share tips on managing them
First and foremost is that financial pressures GP practices experienced throughout 2022 are set to increase during 2023.
This is the warning from Andrew Pow, board member of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA). Some of the key issues include:
Pay inflation. Practice staff are feeling the impact of inflation on their household budgets but NHS funding for GP practices will not cover inflation-linked pay increases. What staff in other parts of the NHS get paid adds to the pressure. If, for example, a PCN physio employed by a hospital trust receives a 4.5% pay increment, how does that compare with the pay of other PCN staff directly employed by practices?
Tip: Weigh up all the options. These are implementing across the board increments to all staff members at the same rate; differential uplift rates – lower paid staff members will feel the inflationary impact on their household budgets the most; and a combination of a lower inflation uplift with a one-off cost of living bonus.
Energy costs. As practices come off their fixed rate deals, energy costs will add further pressure. Even with government support (which will end in the spring) costs will be higher.
Tips: Consider an investment in energy efficient lighting that could save money in the long run. Run your practice as you would at home and turn everything off at night.
Interest rates. Rates have risen by 2.9% since December 2021. Any borrowing not on a fixed deal will be linked to the Bank of England rate so costs will have increased. Fixed rate deals will be above 7% going forward.
Tips: Consider using a broker to check out the fast-moving market. Maximise rental income and ensure rent reviews are done in a timely manner.
General inflation. Practice budgets are already being squeezed by the increase in general costs such as stationery.
Tips: Look at digital solutions to ensure in-house processes are as efficient as possible. Maximise income from claims including drugs reimbursements.
Ash Higgs, Managing Director of MCG Healthcare on:
Recruitment and retention of staff
The immediate outlook for 2023 remains bleak with NHS figures showing a shortage of 10,500 doctors, 47,000 nurses and around 4200 FTE GPs.
GP practices need to be prepared for the challenging times ahead – how can you attract and retain more staff and manage increasing patient demand within tight budgets?
When it comes to candidate attraction widen the focus
- Consider permanent or longer-term contracts rather than temporary placements, which will save time and money.
- Think about whether practice nurses can help your overworked GPs and successfully treat patients with less complex needs?
- Ask practice staff if they have friends or colleagues who are looking for a new role, many practices pay referral fees to staff who refer a successful candidate.
- Research free resources for advertising jobs such as your local LMC or PCN website.
- Advertise roles on social media and encourage staff to share these with friends and followers.
- Most importantly, create a clear, concise job description.
Develop a robust interview process
- Identify essentials for the role, e.g. salary expectations, skills or hours required and discuss these with the candidate prior to interview.
- Have the process mapped out: how many interviews will you hold?, who the candidate will meet?, in what timescale will you make a decision? Ensure all of this information is clear to the candidate from the beginning.
- Prepare for the interview, ensure you have read candidates’ CVs thoroughly.
- Be consistent across all interviews to ensure a fair and non-discriminative process.
- Take notes throughout the process.
Sell the role and your practice
Due to a shortage of clinicians there are many jobs available, so ensure you are selling the role and the practice to potential candidates. Think about why they should choose your practice over others and what makes you unique. For example, refer to your practice culture, opportunities for career progression and use testimonials from current practice staff.
Post Interview, don’t delay
Don’t keep interviewees waiting for a decision, make sure you contact them within the previously set timescales to let them know if they have been successful or not. Moving fast at this stage can be crucial if you don’t want to risk losing your first-choice candidate.