Lord Darzi's interim NHS report will demand a "new breed of manager", says Sue Hodgetts, Chief Executive of the Institute of Healthcare Management.
In an article for National Health Executive, Mrs Hodgetts says members of the IHM would have welcomed more acknowledgement by Lord Darzi of the role of managers in delivering government targets.
She also says that "there appears to be some suspicion among the GP fraternity about whether Lord Darzi, an eminent surgeon, really understands their world."
Lord Darzi's proposals – for GP "polyclinics", more GP commissioning and a shifting of patient care away from hospitals – will have huge impact upon practice management, says Mrs Hodgetts.
"IHM practice manager members are acutely aware that much of the burden of the change of approach will fall on their shoulders.
"However, there is very little acknowledgement in the interim report of the importance that managers, whether they work in primary or secondary care, will inevitably need to play if Lord Darzi's vision is to be implemented seamlessly.
Mrs Hodgetts says that a straw poll of IHM members suggests that "while there will be huge challenges for managers, there will also be huge opportunities.
"One member astutely pointed out that a new breed of manager may be required – one who has all the hard-edged management skills, but also the softer ones of the consummate networker and negotiator who is able to work across new boundaries.
"This new breed of manager will need to be equipped and supported to deal with the changes Ara Darzi is seeking to introduce."
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"Yes, I could not agree more. In fact, I have just completed a Masters Degree in Management, which I chose to do to help me to do my job more effectively" – Helena Ayre MSc, practice manager of large two-site practice with 14,140 patients and 45 staff, Peterborough
"Yes it does – the infamous and outmoded use of doctors' wives and aged receptionists is gone. Large practices need expert managers and "greedy GPs" should pay the market rate and not the customary £10 an hour" – Vivien Kinch, Hertfordshire
"Not sure I agree. I think that practice managers, particularly those managing larger practices, require "hard edged" management skills and the "softer" ones of the consummate networker and negotiator' - Allan M Stewart, Bebington
"Yes it does, as a result of the changes being imposed by the NHS down through the PCT, primary care is being forced to think of itself as a business with business opportunities. The role is developing, but to attract people with the right skills (from industry) there needs to be a new acceptance by GPs as to how their practice will be run. It needs a new remit not aligned with the promotion of another secretary, it needs a much more attractive salary and above all it needs a PCT that will work with, not in isolation of, a Practice Manager. Conversely, the practice that wishes to stay a "country practice" should be allowed so to do" - Mike Sitton, PM, Bethesda Medical Centre
"A new breed of practice manager already exists. Since the new contract, the core competency framework has defined that. The Darzi report heralds the next phase of the NHS, and clearly there may be challenges ahead for primary care. Sue Hodgetts is right to point out that little reference is made to the potential demands to be placed at the door of the practice manager. Those that have been involved in the policies introduced into general practice over the last five years will be only too aware of the challenges that will be facing them" – Steve Williams, London