Does the perfect GP practice exist?

Practice Managers who took part in a recent BMA survey have addressed the issue of GP practices being too small to meet patient demand, with half of respondents saying they do not believe the surgery building they work in fits their present needs.


With general practice facing change on an unprecedented scale, is it possible to keep up with the needs of patients and ensure the literal bricks and mortar that prop up primary care are fit for purpose? 

Dealing with discontent in primary care

The survey, also completed by GPs, saw 80% of respondents reveal they do not believe their practice is equipped to meet the future needs of their organisation. Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “GPs have been telling us for years that their practice buildings are not up to scratch, and now we have evidence showing just how serious the situation is.”

This comes after a report from the Patients Association earlier this year revealed four in ten patients believe their GP practice is a ‘poor environment that made them feel anxious or stressed’. A common complaint was that cramped conditions mean patients often feel concerned that their discussions with reception staff can be easily overheard.


How can we move forwards and improve?

Much-needed funding for general practice has been promised in the NHS Long-Term Plan, which also points towards a forthcoming premises review for primary care. It’s well overdue for many practices – the last significant modification or extension of the average GP practice premise took place in the mid-2000s according to the BMA’s survey, pre-dating the population growth of the last decade.

So, what can we take away from this difficult situation? The answer to the question posed in the headline of this article is that no, unfortunately it’s not realistic to strive for perfection. What we can do is make the most of what we have. We can promote and encourage excellent customer service from staff at all levels – every interaction a patient has with practice staff is a chance to show our teams and organisations in a positive light.


Cultivating a community in your practice

No-one ever said it was an easy job, but let’s not forget that PMs make a real difference in people’s lives and not everyone can say the same. Practice managers do an incredible job every day – here are just six reasons why – so don’t forget to take a moment and give yourself credit for a job well done. So often we find that the way we conduct ourselves and behave around staff can inspire and influence their own behaviour.

Newsletters and Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) can summon up a sense of community at your practice, even if that simply means adding some content such as a GP’s favourite recipe, or advertising walking clubs to encourage people to get out and about. Social prescribing can come in all shapes and forms, after all.

Make sure you take full advantage of the resources you have available too, such as First Practice Management subscriptions. We’re always looking for ways to make life easier for practice managers, providing an invaluable library of sample policies and a HR helpline to answer those tricky questions. Take a quick look at our guide to saving time for practice managers for more handy tips and ideas.


Small improvements really do add up

Financial relief has been promised in the form of extra funding for GP practices, so we’ll stress again that knowledge really is a hugely important tool. Make sure you know what extra money you could be entitled to you and put yourself forward for extra resources that can make real improvements.

In the meantime, perfection may not be attainable, but the little really things do add up. It could be as simple as using cheerful colours in your practice environment - anything from a fresh lick of paint to posters promoting NHS initiatives around your practice could freshen things up. Stay tuned to the FPM Blog for more ideas on how to brighten up your practice!


FPM are always looking for ways to save time for Practice Managers and make your job easier. You can find out more about the benefits of a First Practice Management subscription by clicking here.


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