Viewpoint: A day in the life of a practice manager

It's a new day at the surgery and having made sure all the staff on the rota are in place, a plethora of emails is awaiting my attention.

Mrs Burnett: 'I count myself very lucky to work with a group which is aware of what is expected and work well.'
Mrs Burnett: 'I count myself very lucky to work with a group which is aware of what is expected and work well.'

One is telling me all about the new enhanced services for 2014/15 and I am relieved to discover that my evening is now safe in the knowledge of some reading to be done.

The roof has been leaking during the recent adverse weather and the nice man just back from working high above assures me we are now watertight, when the lights in the main patient waiting area go.

The electrician is duly informed to attend post haste to ensure our patients can see where they are going. I am sure the CQC would have to say a thing or two about disoriented patients in dark.

I have a little time now to give some consideration to who should be practice counter terrorism lead. Did we receive a job description? Do we know what evidence will be expected? Perhaps time to await further details.

Switching practice services from a reactive to a pro-active service

I must also remember to give some thought to the most suitable federated model in between adding bank holiday opening hours on our website and remind patients to order sufficient medication.

It has recently been suggested that I should switch practice services from a reactive to a pro-active service and help prevent rather than cure. But hold on – isn’t that what family doctors have been doing for decades? I distinctly remember receiving advice from my GP 20 years ago on how to eat healthily and why alcohol is bad for me, from my mother before that and my grandmother before that.

Are we just re-inventing the wheel with targets attached?

Opening up an emergency on the day appointment for the patient to attend later today

The receptionist informs me that a patient has asked to speak to me as she is not happy about appointments. We have already offered eight different options but each clash with a hair appointment, her three-year old’s advanced judo class or walking her four-legged friend.

I ask about the problem. It transpires that the fungal rash of six months requires a GP’s attention today and I decide to open up an emergency on the day appointment for her to attend later today. On her way home she decides to see the pharmacist and the missed appointment is added to our DNA statistics.

Lucky to work with people who are aware of what is expected of them and work well as a team 

The latest practice statement arrives electronically and once I have sorted out the password for the umpteenth time I try to marry this up with outstanding money. Now assured that the cash flow will see us through another day, my staff log informs me that an appraisal is due and I settle down with the member of staff to discuss the last year’s performance.

I count myself very lucky to work with a group of people who are aware of what is expected of them and work well as a team caring for our patients. The appraisal form is completed and filed for another year – the CQC will be so proud! Leaving my office she asks did I know there was a dead fox in the car park? That fact had escaped me hitherto. I try to remember which of my combination ILM/AMSPAR study tools would have best prepared me for the disposal of a mammal carcass; cost benefit, force field, Kotter’s eight step? I feel very ill prepared and decide to phone the local RSPCA for advice.

The senior partner is duty doctor today and I wonder whether he has had a chance yet to grab a cup of tea in the midst of medication reviews, dementia questions and an avalanche of minor illnesses that would easily qualify for the recently newly-promoted system of patient self-care.

Hold on, I distinctly remember 20 years ago... I sent him a screen message and, yes, he would like a cuppa.

Waiting for the kettle to boil I decide to write a letter to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt, inviting him to spend a day with me to experience a day in the life of a practice manager. I receive a response politely declining due to lack of time currently being available to spend in primary care. I know what you mean my friend, I know what you mean!

* Heike Burnett is a practice manager in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

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