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Managers that make the practice tick

A great performance deserves to be recognised widely, says Carole Slingsby

A one-size-fits-all job description for practice managers does not exist. What they do varies from surgery to surgery but, if your practice is highly efficient, the chances are that your manager is instrumental in making it a class act.

‘The role of the practice manager is now pivotal to the smooth running of most surgeries,’ states the RCGP’s information sheet, ‘Practice management in the UK’.

The manager provides the administration, management and strategic skills to support the work of the GPs and other clinicians, freeing up their time for clinical work.

Two examples of superb practice managers are Val Hempsey, who was the national winner of the Practice Mana-ger of the Year Awards 2006, and Sarah Harrison who was the national runner-up.

Ms Hempsey is a practice manager partner in Gateshead in a practice of eight GPs.

The competition judges said: ‘Her deceptively easy-going style hides a smart, calculating, street-wise manager’.

Ms Hempsey is much admired by her colleagues. It is her goal to move as many services out of secondary care as she possibly can. She has taken a lead in developing these services and in ensuring admin staff have developed clinical skills.

Running the business

Ms Harrison is the manager of a single-handed GP’s practice in Peterborough. The practice’s list has grown by 40 per cent in four years.

English is not the main means of communication for patients who, between them, speak over 130 languages. As practice manager Ms Harrison has been central to developing relationships with other services for asylum seekers and refugees.

‘Sarah runs the whole business. She manages across the clinical interface, recruitment, supervision, appraisal, the whole works,’ the judges said.

 ‘Practice management in the UK’ www.rcgp.org.uk

Does your practice manager have star quality?

If you believe that your practice manager is an unsung hero who deserves wider recognition, why not nominate him or her for the ‘Practice Manager of the Year Awards 2007’?

Entrants will be judged on their skills in practice development, communication, business planning, facilities management and innovation.

The awards will be presented by health minister Lord Warner at a gala dinner in London in May.

The nomination form is available from www.pmoty.co.uk.

The prizes

  • The overall national winner will enjoy a 14-day P&O Cruise for two.
  • The national runner-up will enjoy a 10-day P&O trip.
  • Regional winners will receive weekend breaks.       
  • Regional runners-up will have a special hospitality day out to the Chelsea Flower Show.

The judges

The five-member judging panel includes national clinical director for primary care Dr David Colin-Thome; National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) chairman Dr James Kingsland and the 2006 national winner Val Hempsey.

The Practice Manager of the Year Awards 2007 are sponsored by Williams Medical Supplies, the NAPC and the DoH

Practice Managers' responsibilities

  • Ensuring the right GPs, nurses and other staff, etc are in place daily to provide quality patient services.
  • Managing the staff including recruitment, supervision, training, welfare, health and safety and payroll matters.
  • Being the focal point of communication in the practice and liaising with the primary care organisation (PCO).
  • Managing the premises.
  • Taking part in practice decision making with the GP partners; organising and overseeing the implementation of new initiatives.
  • Administering practice finances ensuring payments due are received, producing profits/cash flow forecasts and liaising with the accountant, bank manager and PCO.
  • First point of contact for informal resolution of patient complaints.

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