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The ‘New Normal’ - What has it taken to get here?

As Practices start to move to a “new normal” way of working, we asked Practice Managers for a bit of insight on how they have felt, what lessons they’ve learned and what has surprised them during the Covid Pandemic so far.

Managing Change

So many people and staff members hate change. Its uncomfortable, it’s not stable and we don’t know where it might lead us. But Practice Managers have guided their teams through the biggest and swiftest changes Primary Care has ever seen. So what did Practice Managers say about managing through the changes?

“There’s been so much change in such a short space of time - we’ve had to deal with it, we didn’t have a choice, but it helped to build my confidence in implementing change in the practice.”

“This has been a learning curve for me. I think I understand better how to get the team onboard with change.”

“I know that me, the practice and the team can all handle change now.”

The Clinical Changes

Remote Appointments have been talked about in Primary Care for years, with the NHS Long Term Plan mentioning that they should be up and running by 2025. Covid-19 has forced this change into action quicker than anyone thought was possible, but it has in most cases been a great success.

“GPs have so much more control of the appointments, and in particular the time.”

“I think that Remote appointments have educated patients that they don’t always need to come into the practice and that actually sometimes a remote appointment can better suit them.”

“I hope remote appointments are here to stay. It will be a real shame if it goes back to normal completely.”

There are further clinical changes ahead too, how are we going to deal with flu? Are infection control measures here to stay, even once the pandemic is over? I guess we’ll find out soon, however at least we know that the practices are ready to embrace the changes.

 

What Would you Have Done Differently?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and of course had we all known about how serious this pandemic was likely to become I’m sure everyone would have been buying masks and hand gel (possibly not the loo roll!) far further in advance than we did. But it is important to look back and learn, so what did our Practice Managers say they would have done differently?

“We were a bit slow at the beginning. I think some of it was not believing how serious this could become.”

“I left it a little too late to source screens. I’ve found that if you get just slightly behind, sourcing something required can be very difficult.”

“I would have identified a Covid non-clinical Lead at the beginning of the outbreak. Everywhere had a clinical lead, but not everywhere had someone to help with everything else. This made a big difference to us.”

 

How do you feel the NHS and Primary Care Organisations reacted to the Pandemic?

We are all proud of our NHS. Never have we been more proud to work for the NHS, but how has it felt being on the “front line”?

“There were so many bulletins and information coming from different sources, it did get a bit overwhelming at times.”

“The LMC has been amazing. They became our One Stop Shop by collating all the information from NHSE.”

“We did source a lot of our own PPE, if we’d waited for the deliveries from the government we would have really struggled.”

“Information was sometimes sent during the late afternoon or at weekends, it sometimes didn’t leave us that much time to make any necessary changes.”

 

How Did Your Staff Deal with the Pandemic?

“The staff have been amazing, everyone has pulled together and worked really hard.”

“It has brought out the best in most of the team.”

“It’s shown the team to be incredibly resilient.”

“The only people that let the practice down were those that I could have predicted would, but the majority have gone over and above.”

 

Have you learnt anything from the Pandemic?

From practical advice to how we view people, has the pandemic changed the way you think?

“The importance of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Even though somebody does something every day, it doesn’t mean they always do it well and thoroughly. Having clear instructions has been so important.”

“Taking every day one step at a time and breaking problems down into more manageable chunks allows you to do anything!”

“How quickly people can forget! As soon as lockdown was eased guards dropped very quickly and I had to act on this very quickly.”

“There was months/years of "debate" about using video consultations, and ultimately we just "did it" and it worked because we wanted it to – we’ve changed the way we work so we can do the best for us and the patients, and it works.”

 

 

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