Workload pressure threatens practice manager exodus

Pressure on general practice has created a significant increase in practice managers thinking of leaving their jobs and GPs must do more to tackle the problem, an LMC has warned.

Dr Nigel Watson: practice managers under real pressure
Dr Nigel Watson: practice managers under real pressure

Wessex LMCs chief executive Dr Nigel Watson said he had seen a 50% increase in practice managers contacting the organisation for advice over the past 12-18 months, with significant numbers threatening to leave their jobs because of workload pressures.

Other LMCs around the country had reported similar increases, said Dr Watson.

Some GPs, he warned, were responding to pressure by adopting a ‘bunker mentality’. But he warned failing to tackle the problem head on was making practice managers’ jobs even more difficult.  

Practice managers were facing ‘unprecedented’ workload pressure, according to Philip Horsfield, chairman of North Tyneside practice managers’ forum. Last year’s reforms, he said, had made their jobs ‘significantly more complex’. ‘In recent years there has been a ramping up in turnover of practice managers.’

GPs often ignored the problem, said Mr Horsfield.

‘They say: "Yes I understand you are working hard, but can I just leave this on your desk to do".’ 

‘Their clinical work has a greater and greater amount of administrative work that has to be done. They’re pressed for time, so there’s a tendency to delegate to the admin team or practice manager.’

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said practice managers bore a large part of the growing bureaucratic burden of general practice.

‘It is something we recognise and growing numbers of LMCs invite practice manager representatives onto their committees to ensure their important voice and experience is heard.’

Dr Watson said his LMC was organising roadshows to help practice managers with work such as CQC checks and the NHS data reporting system CQRS, and had established ‘supporters’ at the LMC to give advice.

‘Part of the thrust of what we are about as LMCs, is to point out to NHS England and area teams that they cannot just pile more work onto practices without consequences,' said Dr Watson.

Ultimately, he added, the solution was to reduce the ‘mindless bureaucracy’ of general practice.

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