Hello, Is Anybody There?

I’ve been thinking… Those of you dear readers who have been members of FPM Discussion Forum for as long as I have will remember the days when there were numerous threads of discussions and questions going on every day.  And I really mean lots of threads, probably in excess of half a dozen different ones every single day. But I've noticed recently, that there are very few discussions going on at any one time. Some days we don’t get any, and that can be for several days.

And it got me thinking. What has happened?

There are a few possibilities:

  1. All Practice Managers are completely abreast of all the changes that have happened recently; have efficient and effective IT systems; have a fully functioning team of staff who cause no problems, or have no causes for concern.
  2. All Practice Managers are highly experienced, knowledgeable and fully up to date, and have no need for support and reinforcement.
  3. There’s only about a dozen Practice Managers in the country - all the rest have retired to an unnamed Pacific island to languish on the beach sipping something cool and delicious and watching the sun go down…
  4. Or, and this is what I suspect, and fear, we are all so bogged down, and weighed down by the unrelenting workload, that we don’t have time to raise our heads and take stock, ask for help or support, or just share some of our frustrations. We are just hunkered down in our offices, noses to the wheel ploughing our lone furrow, mostly downwards.  Sound familiar to anyone?

Well number 4 sounds very familiar to me. I have been a practice manager since 1997 and I have never felt so swamped with work as I do now. The changes that came into being on 1st April this year have made some of the more simple administrative tasks I used to do so labyrinthine in complexity that I have to set aside hours of time simply to send in claims and invoices.  Instead of making one monthly claim each month and 4 quarterly claims per year, I now have to do 4 claims per month to 4 different organisations; the quarterly ones are to yet another person in another organisation, and then there are the CQRS (Calculating Quality Reporting Service) claims which may or may not work (we’ve had a lot of problems with CQRS in my neck of the woods).

Tracking payments received is nigh on impossible – for example, the way we are paid for drugs has changed completely with various parts of each monthly payment being paid in different ways and at different times, all of a sudden.

Add to that increasing patient demand, a pay freeze and rising prices, reduced GMS income and income streams, and pressure, pressure, pressure, and there’s no wonder we've all gone quiet – hopefully not quietly mad.

I've said it before and I’ll say it again, the Practice Manager’s position is a lonely one; no one else in the practice knows or understands our role, and if we have the temerity to say we are perhaps not having a fabulous day, we are regaled with tales of how bad it is for the other person.  It is our role to keep morale up, smile with a song in our hearts, and keep ours and everyone else’s pecker up.  Well my pecker is looking more than a little sorry for itself.   And it seems I’m not alone; have a look at the discussion forum from the 10th August for a thread called Practice Manager Support Needed; clearly this time it really isn't just me.

But there is a glowing light that we can all look to – it’s each other. We are blessed in my area to have a good Practice Managers’ group who meet every month, and also share information via e-mails between meetings.  As we are all local we are affected by the same issues and problems, and so can either help each other with solutions, or act as a group to raise issues with the powers that be. Or we can chat and share our frustrations and a laugh over a cup of coffee and a biscuit, in a safe, confidential environment, with people who REALLY understand where we are coming from. Its worth is priceless.

So the point of this blog? To say that there are very many feeling like you do – yes it is hard presently (if you are not finding it so I am delighted for you; I know plenty are), but there is a band of people out there who really know what you are going through and may have solutions , ideas or suggestions to help, and it’s us. Not only do we understand but there is a wealth of experience and knowledge that you can tap into.  And I strongly encourage you all to either join or go to one of your PM group meetings, or set a group up if there isn’t one near you – it really isn’t difficult and is a valuable source of support and information.

You are not alone!


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