With 700 practice managers registering for a Zoom discussion this week, it is clear that there is a groundswell of opinion that something has to be done to recognise, protect and enhance our profession (yes, it is a profession and a specialised one at that).
With the help of Practice Index and the NAPC, four inspiring colleagues led a discussion which clearly demonstrated that practice managers long for a unified national voice and recognition. We need to have a seat at the decision-making table.
The discussion was organised after a survey, managed by Practice Index, indicated that over half of practice managers planned to leave the profession within the next 12 months. Anecdotally, I can add that three out of seven of the PMs in my PCN have left over the summer; two to retirement and one, interestingly, to manage a neighbouring PCN.
I often compare practice management to being the captain of a ship. General practice and primary care is now a very complex vessel, not a rowing boat. It is important that the decision-makers at a national, regional and CCG level appreciate that we are the people on the bridge who ensure our organisations avoid the icebergs and safely arrive at port.
Recent policy errors such as over-ambitious PCN objectives or the exclusion of practice managers from the “Golden Hello” need to be avoided to ensure that we don’t abandon ship aboard a life raft. And if we had our own voice and were listened to, these rocks would not have damaged the craft.
This demand for recognition and a voice must not be regarded as a criticism of those who have done their best to further our cause in the past. I have been in the profession for almost 15 years and the role is unrecognisable from the one I started in. Practice mergers, clinician/partner shortages, financial constraints, CQC pressures and PCNs have all transformed my role in the last decade at a time when CCGs have got larger and more remote. And then Covid hit us! Our needs are now greater than ever before and that is why we need a new solution.
I urge all practice managers to get involved. We need to get this right straight away so that time and skilled practice managers are not lost. We have colleagues who are furthering our cause with all of the key stakeholders. Let’s make sure something positive comes out of 2020! Follow progress via Twitter at @NAPC_NHS.