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Sunday 25 September 2016
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The practice meeting – is a consensus possible?

We have a practice meeting every month. Last time I found myself reflecting on the whole dynamic. From the practice manager's perspective, making sense of any decisions we make must be like deciphering the enigma code or making sense of the meaning of the Turin Shroud.

It's no mean task to reflect on the chat, banter and focus of 10 GPs sitting discussing agenda items ranging from the practice accounts to the choice of venue for this year's Christmas party.

The meeting agenda is painstakingly produced, with attached documents to aid decision-making. Just to spoil things, each GP has one or two items of "any other business", which they remember 'on the day'. Matters arising are those decisions that the GPs were too tired to decide upon last time or were so contentious that it meant we needed a month to forget about.

Each GP must have a say on most issues and then a conclusion drawn. The decisions that we make are termed (historically) major or minor. Major decisions require a unanimous vote. Is this ever possible? Thankfully, such decisions are less frequently required. One way of approaching a major decision when there is no consensus is to talk for an hour, decide to reflect, put it on the agenda for next time and the time after that and the time after that until it becomes a minor decision – which only requires a majority. This is the "attrition approach".

The other is to organise the next practice meeting at a time inconvenient to the dissenters. This is the "bypass approach".

The most contentious and frustrating thing our practice manager must organise is the food. Our meetings start at 6.30pm and end at 9.30-11.00pm. Food at the start includes pizza, curry and sandwiches – no one's ever happy with one thing. I look forward to the day when a curried pizza in a baguette arrives.

The meetings have a chairman; they also have spoilers. I had a reputation as a spoiler and I'm not proud. No one will sit next to me! When I was at school I was often told off for talking. It's plain rude, but I've learnt nothing and still persist in whispering during lulls in concentration (my concentration).

Our new partner attended his first meeting this week. He didn't seem too over- or underwhelmed as he munched on his 15th vegetable samosa. A new era, a new mouth to feed.

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"When you feel really strongly about something, but know that the partners will not agree, then KEEP IT ZIPPED! I only end up more frustrated than before!" – Maria Smith, Warwickshire