The second-ever Management in Practice Event took place on 1 May 2007 at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, and was attended by hundreds of practice managers. This one-day event consisted of a variety of presentations on pertinent primary care issues by expert, specialist speakers, as well as an exhibition of leading companies providing products and services to aid practice management, set over three floors in the spacious venue.
Management in Practice's consultant editor Cathryn Bateman and regular contributor and healthcare training director Wendy Garcarz chaired the presentations, which were held in two separate venues following the keynote address by
Dr James Kingsland, a GP and chairman of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC).
Dr Kingsland encouraged delegates to get involved with practice-based commissioning (PbC), which he welcomed as "an exciting possibility for primary care". Dr Kingsland expressed that PbC was a real opportunity for general practices to take their development into their own hands, and represented "a vision for primary care".
In response to the previous event at the Birmingham NEC last October, several of the subsequent presentations took a more indepth consideration of topics relevant to practice managers, and there was also an extended panel session, which enabled delegates to ask questions of a trio of experts on any topic, and to debate their most pressing professional concerns.
One of the "masterclasses" focused on premises development, and was presented by specialist healthcare property consultants Howard Forster and Stephanie Cooling. In this session, entitled "Not just bricks and mortar – responding to the Google generation", Mr Forster addressed the business aspects of general practice, identifying property as "a source of competitive advantage" for your practice, "something that will set you apart" from other primary care providers.
While the concept of competition and consumerism may make many practice managers uncomfortable, it's certainly the case that larger primary care centres are set to increase in number in the oncoming years, offering additional services to patients – and the likely outcome of this is that smaller practices could see patients moving away.
This was a topic addressed in the lively panel session. Chaired by Wendy Garcarz, the panel included Joseph Chandy, a practice manager and chair of his local commissioning consortium, Dr Ian Wiles, medical director of a firm that sets up joint venture partnerships with GP practices to manage the provision of enhanced services, and Allan Hildon, senior lecturer in health services management at Essex University.
In this session, Management in Practice met Question Time as delegates submitted questions in advance for discussion. One such question was: "Will there be fewer practice managers in the future?" The question holds a bleak logic: if more and more general practices merge to form "super surgeries", what will happen to all the managers? Will "executive" managers start to appear in primary care, holding positions above those of the standard practice manager?
One delegate gave a popular, and robust, defence of the practice manager's role when he said: "We don't need a new title. We need more money. Why aren't practice managers paid more?" Indeed, this session raised more questions than it provided answers, but this was the point: to engage in debate about the practice manager's role, and to stand up for this important position.
In other presentations, Dr Mark Davies, primary care medical director of the National Choose and Book team, bravely advocated the IT referral system that's been greeted with mixed popularity as "a revolution in referring", maintaining that the traditional referral system was "not fit for purpose" and needed to be overhauled.
Medical financial specialist Deborah Wood discussed the impact of the new General Medical Service (GMS) global sum review formula upon general practice funding, and Paul Vaughan from the Working in Partnership (WiPP) programme looked at establishing a competence framework for healthcare assistants, using the general practice nurse (GPN) career pathway as a benchmark.
Throughout the day, delegates visited the exhibition area, where a wide range of primary care providers were onhand to demonstrate their products and services. Exhibitors ranged from health provider organisations and IT system suppliers to primary care training specialists and manufacturers of clinical devices. The kind support of these exhibitors ensured that this event was completely free to delegates.
If you missed out on MiP Manchester, there are two further events planned this year. The next event will take place on
5 September in London, at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Then, we shall be returning to the scene of the first
Management in Practice Event on 10 October, at the NEC, Birmingham.
Such is the success of these events that a further event at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall is already planned for next year – on 10 June 2008. To find out more about any of these forthcoming events, visit the website at www.campden.com/mipevents or call our conference hotline on 020 7214 0543.
Make sure you don't miss out on the opportunity for a lively day of information and debate on developments in your profession – get the dates in your diary!