Helen Murray - Account Manager

Practice Manager stress level at an all time high

I spotted an article in GPOnline this week with a headline of “More than two thirds of practice managers have recently contemplated quitting their jobs as the complexity and intensity of their work increases alongside hours and stress.”

The survey was carried out by Medeconomics and their results are not are not far from the results of the job satisfaction survey that we carried out in 2013 at FPM.  It seems not a lot has changed in terms of how well Practices Managers feel supported and how they are finding it difficult to manage the ever increasing workload.

My experience

I must admit, as a practice manager I often found myself looking at my desk and thinking ‘I just don’t know where to start!’  I’m pretty sure the GPs and staff had no real understanding of the levels of stress  I sometimes felt, although I have no doubt they felt their own work pressures too.  It was never just as simple as sitting down at my desk and getting on with it – constant interruptions and queries, phone always ringing, patients being demanding.

I often found myself starting work early in the morning or working late in to the night after everyone else had gone home just to have some peace to get on with things.  I felt like I hadn’t stopped all day, but struggled to see any real achievements; the pile of paperwork on the desk never seemed to dwindle.

My family and social life seemed to suffer at the hands of work and I actually sometimes felt resentful; even when I wasn’t at work I was thinking about it and a few times woke up in the morning with a list I had written through the night of things that had been keeping me awake and needed to remember ‘tomorrow’!  I’m sure this all sounds very familiar to many of you too.

The one consolation I had was that I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling like this – this was how everyone was feeling and was a hot topic at our local practice manager meetings.   It is a common theme and still when visiting practice managers or chatting to people at events I hear this a lot - and its not going to get any less stressful, ever.  How can you be expected to run the practice business effectively and efficiently, as well as make the practice money if you struggle with the pressure of the workload?  What we need to do is find a way to manage our stress, manage our time and manage our people well.

How can we help?

Here at Thornfields we have a lot of experience in primary care management training.  We understand that financial constraints in the NHS mean that there just isn’t the funding there used to be for training, however our training workshops are designed for up to 15 people and this allows practices to share the costs.  To help combat some of the issues I have mentioned, Thornfields offer the following one day workshops:

  • Managing Pressure at work: This aim of this workshop is to enable delegates to work under pressure more effectively.  As a result of attending this workshop delegates will develop a variety of techniques to handle pressure and improve the quality of their working life.

  • Time Management for Practice Managers: By the end of this one day workshop delegates will have developed an understanding of their own working style and the most effective ways to maximise its potential. Delegates will learn how to control and prioritise their own workload and how to influence others. The focus of the day will be on developing a range of practical techniques that can easily be incorporated into everyday working patterns.

  •  Fit for the Future: The changing NHS is putting pressure on practices to be efficient and effective in the management and delivery of patient services. This one day workshop will provide Managers and Partners with the skills and tools required to review their current position, evaluate staffing levels and skill mix and make the changes necessary for future survival.

  • Managing People with Confidence: Five day ILM accredited development course:  The five interactive workshops, coupled with work-based coursework, come together to create confident and competent managers with the skills to tackle the toughest of challenges at work.

The NHS can’t afford to lose dedicated and experienced managers and according to the GPOnline survey it seems a lot practice managers are considering getting out.  Don’t let the stress and pressure of work upset your work/life balance.  We are here to help and support you in your role.

If you would like to know about any more of the above then please contact me at helen@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk


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