Steve Donlan, Co-chair of the Practice Management Network and Management Partner at Endeavour Practice emphasises the importance of staff communication as facilities in surgeries prove inadequate. From setting up new appointment systems to staff shortages, Steve questions who is the voice for practice managers in testing times.
It has been a very difficult month for me. I contracted Covid-19 at the surgery and we lost four clinicians to the virus or to the self-isolation that had to follow. I am very lucky because as part of a partnership that runs two surgeries, my opposite number pulled all the stops out in order to keep the show on the road. But where would we have been if we did not have this built-in support and cover? I hate to think.
If 2020 has demonstrated anything, it is how our role is becoming practically impossible. We have battled with totally inadequate facilities (we can’t even open a window in our main admin areas), new ways of working, new appointment systems, staff shortages, financial pressures and just the continuous battle of keeping the show on the road. Practice managers are exhausted; the pressure is incessant. At such times, staff communication and consultation is even more important than normal and that eats into time that we simply do not have.
With the greatest of respect to my GP colleagues, I sense their role has changed and for sure the personal risk they are taking every day earns my total respect, but I don’t think they are quite on the tread mill that their practice managers are experiencing. And that is the problem. Who provides the voice for our profession? There is also a fear that the evolution of PCN managers will reduce the influence of practice managers further as they are the future and those in power feel that we are not. Scary!
As far as policy makers and commissioners are concerned, there appears to be a belief that things are back to normal. We worked miracles over the summer to allocate our totally disparate care home population to practices and we are all getting used to weekly check-ins. It is seemingly now time to look at structured medication reviews (albeit it is easier to find a GP than a pharmacist in our area); when all consultations are taking longer, where does the capacity come from? And the final kick in the teeth is the belief that we have the time to feed in centrally all our members of staff every month! What planet?
I am excited to hear that colleagues in Sussex are leading a drive for practice managers to come together to create a national voice and gain recognition and accreditation for our vital role. I will keep you all updated on this initiative via this blog.
For sure, it is time to be heard – before we all burn out.