A new national network for practice managers in England has been set up by several leading healthcare organisations, with the aim of connecting practice managers across the country to share resources, provide communication networks and to act as a sounding board for policy within primary care and the wider NHS.
The NHS Practice Management Network is a partnership between the NHS Alliance, British Medical Association, National Association of Primary Care, AMSPAR, Royal College of General Practitioners, the Family Doctor Association and the IHM (Institute of Healthcare Management).
The Department of Health is providing some support in the early stages of the network, but it is intended to be run by practice managers for practice managers.
Over the next few months, the NHS Practice Management Network will be contacting local groups, with the aim of finding out what's important to practice managers and how it can support them.
In particular, the network will look at contributing to the policy agenda, sharing food practice and championing professional recognition.
The network has already published a "how to" guide for practices, entitled Improving access, responding to patients, which will be sent to all GP practices.
The guide shares successes and signposts examples of things that have worked and made a difference for patients and the working lives of staff.
Do you welcome this new network? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Absolutely! The network does indeed recognise that there are already organisations out there to support practice managers, but this network aims to act as an umbrella so practice managers can access just one site and be signposted to relevant areas for further support and information. This network is not looking to compete with the likes of FPM, but endeavours to provide PMs with the opportunity to collectively be heard and influence, by liaising with other stakeholders and the DH. Recognition and possible accreditation of PMs is long overdue and who knows, perhaps this is something we can achieve by working together" – Sam Clark, Cambs
"As others have said, an excellent network already exists and I wonder whether the 'partnership' of NHS Alliance, BMA, NAPC, AMSPAR, RCGP, etc bothered to check to see what already existed? My main concern with the new network (apart from the inevitable reinvention of the wheel) is that it is 'supported' by the DH – can it therefore be truly independent? I now have to decide whether to sign up so as not to potentially miss important information exchanges – yet another drain on my non-existent spare time ..." – Andy Button, Berks
"It would perhaps have been helpful if you had stated that the new 'National' Practice Manager's Network applies to England only. Scotland has had such a network since 2003 and is the only one of the four 'nations' which financially supports a 'National' Practice Manager's Vocational Training Scheme. The Scottish health service model is quite different to that of England and Wales, although we all work to the same GP contract" – Marion MacLeod, National Co-ordinator for Networking & Learning for Practice Managers, National Education for Scotland
[Apologies for this oversight – the above story has now been updated to specify that the new network applies to England only – Editor]
"Yes, I am interested in this network – please keep me posted" – Katherine Tangney, Co. Limerick, Ireland
"Yes, very much. I would love it to be effective as well" – Dr Shujaat Ali, Surrey
"I think that anything that supports practice managers is good, especially those managers who do not have a local network – it can be an isolating position – we do try in this area to involve practice managers from the smaller practices to join in, but it is obvious that some GPs do not realise the importance of these networks and do not allow their attendance at such meetings – this does need to change with the ever-changing environment" – Stephanie, Grimsby
"Absolutely, fantastic" – Janice Langley, Manchester
"I cannot help but think this will be a duplication of what is already available. If PM networks continue to be set up without consultation it will just lead to a dilution of what already works for us. We already have FPM, an excellent site that has been well established for a number of years. Over the last couple of years, GP practice management has evolved, we have our clinical systems network and yet this one has been set up without including any that are already successfully operating. Still, I wish it every success and will undoubtedly sign up to what could prove to be information overload" – David Shaw, Kent
"Yes, I do welcome the network. Practice management is a demanding role – different in every practice and little on offer in way of formal qualifications that can prepare you for the diversity of the role. Mutual support networks are the only thing keeping most managers sane" – Sue Grant, Oldham
"As a new practice manager, this sounds like a great idea" – Ann Hollis, Blackpool
"Absolutely not. Why oh why must we always reinvent the wheel? A perfectly good network already exists and has, since its inception at a time when no one else was, filled the need very well indeed. It was a bottom-up initiative by a much-respected NHS Manager, Ray Willcox, sadly now deceased, and and grew into the very national network now about to be relaunched. What's the point of another?" – David Shields, Co Durham