Valerie Denton said she was "gobsmacked" to be a triple winner at the inaugural General Practice Awards 2011 this week, including being named 'Practice Manager of the Year', an award sponsored by Williams Medical Supplies.
Denton (pictured, with ceremony host Dr Phil Hammond) runs Tudor Lodge Surgery in Weston Super Mare, a joint winner of the 'General Practice of the Year' Award, sponsored by RPM Solutions, alongside the recently opened Wilson Health Centre in Surrey, after judges announced the standard of both practices was so high they could not pick a single winner.
Denton also then received a £2,500 bursary from consultants BMI Healthcare to spend on her practice's service development.
She told MiP she was "absolutely stunned" to win the first two major awards, "but then to win the bursary I just can't get over it, I really can't. I'm still in shock," she said.
The Tudor Lodge Surgery has focused on reducing hospital outpatient follow-ups and preventing readmission to hospital by close monitoring of patients and a daily review of secondary care referrals.
The practice policy means Denton personally manages the telephone list of the surgery's most vulnerable patients and operates an 'open-door' policy.
"I like the patient contact," said Denton. "I'm hands-on. I can't be just up in my room doing the business side of things. I have to know the patients."
An audit of outpatient referrals by the practice's PCT, NHS North Somerset, showed that the innovation had led to savings of £83 per follow-up – equating to £20,000 per year.
More than 450 healthcare professionals attended the General Practice Awards 2011 awards ceremony at the Lancaster London hotel on 16 November. The awards were organised by Campden Media, which publishes Management in Practice, GP Business and Nursing in Practice.
"The night was fabulous," said Denton. "To me it was just like the Oscars. It was lovely and we met so many interesting people."
The practice had recently felt under pressure as a result of finding itself short-staffed, she said, but had been given a "huge lift" by the experience.
"These awards have just completely reinvigorated us," said Denton. "It's reminded us why we work so hard and why we work the long hours we do."
She added: "News has gone round the practice already and all the patients are coming in and congratulating us. It's brilliant."