A medical centre in Essex was yesterday named "Practice of the Year" at the first Management in Practice Awards ceremony, held yesterday (8 October 2008) at the Birmingham NEC.
The Limes Medical Centre in Epping (practice team pictured) received the award for improving patient access by creating a robust triaged access system. This involved the entire practice team, including a coordinating role for the practice's healthcare assistants.
The access system, which took 18 months to implement and has now been running for one year, has enabled the team to identify acute and chronic care pathways quickly, provide excellent continuity of care and enhanced satisfaction for patients, as well as improving staff motivation and skill mix.
Debbie Bodhanya, Practice Director of the Limes Medical Centre, said: "We were really pleased to win this award. It's a recognition of all the work we've been doing around the access project. And it's a nice boost and a morale-lifter for our team."
The team award was appropriate for a practice that worked as a collective: "We do everything in a democratic way," said Mrs Bodhanya. "The whole team is involved in all sorts of decision-making processes, and the patients were also involved in redesigning the access system."
Announcing the winner of the Practice of the Year Award, sponsored by Wesleyan Medical Sickness, at yesterday's ceremony, Judith Harvey, a GP and co-author of The Handbook of Practice Management, said: "Judging this award was an inspiring experience. We were looking for a practice that was thinking outside the tickbox, and had done something innovative.
"All of the nominees had flattened hierarchies, skilled up, involved patients and had changed the way of thinking within the practice".
The Management in Practice Awards were launched to give recognition to practice managers and practice teams, following feedback from readers that they had found the last year to be a difficult time in general practice, with negative coverage in the media over issues such as GP salaries and practice opening hours.
The Awards featured five other categories. The Design and Facilities Award was won by Polkyth Surgery in St Austell, Cornwall. The surgery underwent a radical refurbishment in order to increase capacity and improve patient services.
Accepting the award, Dr Paul Travis from Polkyth Surgery said: "This means a lot to us and I'd like to thank all members of the team. We put the customer – our patients – first, and found that all our staff benefited. It was a great experience."
The Hunter Family Practice in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, won awards in two categories – the Customer Care Award and the Innovation in Training Award. The practice went beyond obligations to disability legislation to provide outstanding improved access for deaf patients. In doing so, the project involved and motivated the entire practice team.
"We were looking for innovation, for practices who listen to and represent their patients," said Customer Care Award judge Sonia Clark, a practice manager/partner and an AMSPAR tutor in customer service.
Lorraine Hughes, practice manager at the Hunter Family Practice, said: "I can't tell you how much this means to us. The feedback we got from our patients was wonderful, but the project also increased team motivation and team morale."
Sara Trow, a case manager and community matron from Blackpool, won the award for Innovative Use of Technology, which recognised her commitment and dedication to her patients through the use of telemedicine and other new technological means.
Barbara Stuttle, National Clinical Lead for Nursing at NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) and one of the judges of this IT award, not only presented Ms Trow with her Management in Practice Award, but also gave her the gift of a new laptop computer on behalf of CfH.
The Seven Brooks Medical Centre in Manchester won the Practice Finance award. The practice had worked hard to raise its Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) score significantly, and in doing do had helped to maximise its income.
Presenting this award, Kavita Oberoi, an award judge and Managing Director of Oberoi Consulting, a provider of IT solutions to the NHS, explained: "This award is not just about finance but also about the patients."
Fellow Practice Finance Award judge Jane Gamble, a practice manager with a successful background in banking, agreed: "We were looking for a practice that was making the most of its income and expenditure, but also looking at how this affected the whole team and the patients."
She added: "I truly marvel every day at the dedication and self-motivation of practice managers."
Tim Moseley, Head of GI Operations at Wesleyan Medical Sickness, sponsors of the Practice of the Year Award, said: "I take my hat off to all the practice teams who took part – I have huge respect for all of them".
The Management in Practice - Practice of the Year Award is sponsored by Wesleyan Medical Sickness
Wesleyan Assurance Society was first established in 1841 and still retains its mutual status today. In 1884 we began serving the needs of medical professionals and continue to do this today through Wesleyan Medical Sickness.