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Taking the helm of new models of care

The Chair of the National Association of Primary Care wants tenacious and highly-motivated practice managers to become leaders in new networks of primary care.

Since introducing the primary care home programme in 2015, it’s become clear that redesigning the workforce and getting staff directly involved in driving forward change at a grassroots level are crucial to the success of this new model of care.

I’ve seen first-hand how workforce redesign across organisational and professional boundaries helps to resolve long-term tensions. It also gives staff more opportunities to develop and use their skills while delivering the sort of care which the local population wants and needs.

It’s been inspiring to witness how this results in a much happier, more motivated workforce.

In expanding integrated models of care and learning from more than 200 primary care home sites the challenge is to ensure we have enough people with the skills and confidence to manage these changes.

We need people who can retain and develop staff through support, mentorship and development to increase the scope of their existing roles and, where it makes sense, we also need people with the vision to create new roles. We want an environment where the workforce can concentrate on the work they enjoy and were trained to do. We need people capable of inspiring collaborative working between different professions and organisations, bringing them together around a common goal to deliver integrated models of care.

But where do we find these people? The good news is they already exist in practices across the country. They may not be aware they have the skills. They may need development to enable them to take the next step from managing a small practice or group of practices to taking on far greater responsibility at the helm of a collaborative model of care, such as the primary care home.

A manager whose responsibilities have traditionally focused on a single practice may now be looking at taking responsibility for a larger group of practices or organisations, effectively becoming a senior manager for a much larger and more complex organisation or network.

Understandably, this may not suit all but some will be excited at the prospect of stepping into a much more challenging, rewarding and demanding role as long as they know they’re able to acquire the skills needed to fulfil it.

The National Association of Primary Care’s diploma in advanced primary care management, set up with funding from NHS England, has been specifically designed to enable managers to take on leadership roles in the new scaled and networked models of primary care, including the primary care home.

The one-year, online course has been developed by experts to address the challenges ahead. It is designed to give managers the skills and confidence to manage changes locally and lead practices to work as a primary care home, hub or network serving combined registered populations of at least 30,000.

If you’re going to be in a leadership role in these models of care, you may not be redesigning the workforce yourself but it’ll be your responsibility to make sure the right person with the right skills is making it happen. Similarly, it may not be you knocking on the doors of partner organisations, breaking down silos and getting everyone sitting down at the same table to redesign services, but you’ll be the driving force putting integration into practice.

Crucial skills acquired during the diploma course include leadership, communication, collaboration, co-ordination and delegation.

I know people in practice management who definitely have the potential to step up to these roles. They may lack the confidence to take the next step, especially if they don’t have a strong academic background. For these colleagues, the diploma is an ideal stepping stone towards what could turn out to be an exciting career in the emerging primary care landscape.

We’re looking for candidates who are tenacious, self-motivated and committed to career progression, who can demonstrate how they would improve patient services in their community with the skills learned on the course.

As the practice manager in my practice reminds me, we’d be lost without her skills. It’s important that we nurture these hugely important colleagues to support the ongoing development of primary care.

Dr Nav Chana

Dr Nav Chana is Chair of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC).

Elected in 2014, he has been integral to the development and roll out of more than 200 primary care home (PCH) sites across England.

Nav has been a GP at the Cricket Green Medical Practice in South West London for over 26 years. Previously he was Clinical Adviser for Workforce Redesign for the new care models programme, Director of Education Quality for Health Education South London and Postgraduate Dean for General Practice and Community-Based Education.

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