The results of an exclusive Medeconomics survey reveal a potential exodus of practice managers due to spiralling workload.
Of 216 practice manager respondents to our online survey conducted in March, more than two thirds (67%) said they had recently contemplated quitting their jobs and 64% were considering leaving general practice. A total of 42% have thought about leaving the NHS and more than a third (35.3%) have considered reducing their hours.
Long working hours
Over the past two years workload compexity has increased, according to 95.7% of respondents while 94.8 per cent reported greater intensity of work; 90% increased stress; and 79% increased hours spent working: 40.7% of practice managers work ten hours a day or more and almost a third (27.8%) take home work two or more days each week (13.4% do so every day).
Compliance/risk management (for example, preparation for CQC inspection) was cited as the area of work causing most stress by 80.2% of respondents, followed by relationships with NHS bodies (64.4%) and practice finance (64.4%); HR issues (58.2%); IT (36.2%); and premises (20.3%).
A year on from the abolition of PCTs and the advent of clinical commissioning, NHS payment systems are still in turmoil, practice managers said. One described claiming for enhanced services as ‘a huge job, where it used to take a few hours each month’, adding: ‘we also have no confidence the CQRS/GPES will work properly and pay us for the correct QOF points at the end of the year.’
Another concluded: ‘The NHS re-organisation in April 2013 has caused problems for managers, especially with regard to finance and payments coming into the practice. CQRS doesn't work, payments come late, payments can't be identified, everything is confusing. Once again, we are left with the mess. We have been told for the past year this is being looked into but there is still no change. What would happen if we took 12 months to sort out a problem in general practice?'
For more comment see coverage at our sister website GPonline.com.
What would help ease the burden?
Practice managers would like:
- A simpler payment system and easier processes for claiming fees
- Improved communication with NHS England (including named contacts) and greater system clarity
- Greater support and understanding from GP employers and more training/defined education
- Open practice manager networks for peer support and to prevent professional isolation
What do you think? Does this reflect the reality in your practice? What steps has your practice taken to address the workload issues of practice managers?