Welcome to the first issue of Management in Practice in 2007. First of all, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a very happy and prosperous new year!
I'm not sure about you but, having "cleared" my desk before the Christmas break, I have found it very difficult to motivate myself to get up and get going with anything new – although I really should have relished the opportunity to make the most of what is generally a quiet time for me, as many primary care trust (PCT) and hospital colleagues shut up shop for the Christmas and New Year period.
We still have patients of course (otherwise I wouldn't be in a job), but as I work in a building separate to our main surgery (which can be difficult at times) I don't see much of the "passing trade".
I have therefore taken the opportunity to consider what 2007 might bring for us. From a Management in Practice point of view that's quite straightforward – more issues! We are increasing to six issues a year from the previous four. So in future you will receive your copies of the magazine on a bimonthly basis. We also have our second conference ahead, this time in Manchester. This will take place on 1 May – more details will follow in due course.
But what about the day job? What does 2007 hold in store for practice managers?
Christine Ranson, in her article "Has the practice manager's role evolved to accommodate practice-based commissioning (PbC)?" on page 19, sums it up: a new set of challenges – and responsibilities. As she rightly suggests, as PbC continues to evolve, there will be a need to work more closely with clinicians in order to oversee clinical delivery demands. As such, we will need to embark upon new relationships with community and local hospital staff.
Some of us will use our skills to provide an interface between primary and secondary care, and some of us will need to develop a new set of skills to enable us to do just that. For me, this is an exciting opportunity, and I certainly see it as an extension of my role.
One area I do not want to contemplate is debt. However, I guess with PbC, and the potential to redesign and reinvest, there is always that possibility. I wonder if the start of the next financial year will begin as the last, with almost (and I do say "almost") every PCT in deficit.
In her article on page 22, Alison Wall questions whether the NHS can continue to take the strain of the drive to source alternative methods of funding as its finances become further depleted. Alison feels that the increasingly popular private finance initiatives (PFIs) will lead to a greater drain on resources, due to the hidden costs and huge profits involved.
Getting IT right
Also for 2007, although I appreciate some PCTs and practices have already embarked upon this, we need to think about the information management and technology (IM&T) direct enhanced service (DES). For my practice, this appears to present a huge workload for very little financial return.
However, I guess that eventually there will be no escape and we will have to bite the bullet. On page 25, Kathie Applebee explains the structure of the DES and the steps practices need to consider that will enable them to progress with this.
I guess that should keep us all busy until March, when there will no doubt be more exciting changes hitting our desks. But hey, who's grumbling? Isn't that what keeps us in a job? Until then, enjoy issue 6 of Management in Practice …