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A day in the life of a practice manager

by in Practice Manager

Have you reached the point when you arrive at your surgery, walk in with a sense of dread and wonder exactly what it is you should do first? I always head for the kitchen to make my first coffee of the day. No blooming milk! This means a walk to the front door to see if the milkman has delivered. He has; I hear the clink of milk bottles being carried up the backstairs by another thirsty soul. We imbibe and the day has begun.

Shall I do the payroll?

8:00am: In my room, I settle down to start the payroll, and look through the messages staff have sent me requesting overtime. They’re the fortunate ones; I don’t get paid overtime. It’s 8 o’clock and I’ll be lucky to leave before 5:00pm. But I might escape for a trip to the local garden centre to have lunch in their excellent café. I open the payroll. There’s a new staff member to add, so I mustn’t forget to add them to the pension scheme. The door opens. I chortle, “I’m doing the payroll.” “Oh,” is the reply, “I’ll come back later.” It always works (unless it’s a doctor). I get on with my task. It’s also time for printing P60s and SD55s and then updating the annual pension records. That’ll keep me quiet.

Power by walkabout!

9:00am: The day progresses and it’s time for a walkabout, to say hello and offer some support and encouragement. Occasionally, I might sit at the reception counter and welcome a few ‘guests’.  Then I disappear rapidly as the doctors think I have more important things to do than staff and public relations.

Time’s not on my side

10:00am: It’s the time of the year when I collate the package of documents for the practice accountant to prepare the annual accounts. I work through a long list of documents, which I file in a set of coloured A4 ring binders, and a message goes to the doctors that I want their personal expenses records too. Over the next week or so, they’ll arrive in sealed envelopes, boxes or simply loose, but there may also have to be a few reminders – and then there’s always the one who wants to take his paperwork direct to the accountant himself!

It’s 11:00am already!

11:00am: Coffee time approaches as the doctors finish their sessions, and the common room gradually fills. It’s easy to predict who will be in first and who will be last. They have company today, as we babysit a rather large dog owned by one of the doctors. The dog’s less trouble than child-sitting a doctor’s offspring escaping a day from school. Back to my desk, and a look at the pension returns. I check that the doctors’ annual estimate of NHS superannuable income and shares has been submitted. It has, but I recall the problems caused with superannuation deductions when it wasn’t. Similarly, I need to check that the annual statement of actual NHS pensionable earnings has been signed off for each partner. Thankfully, it has too! Again, last year it wasn’t – with consequences.

More piles of paperwork

12 noon: We have a new partner this month and there’s a lot of horrible paperwork to complete, and websites to change. Why is it that getting a signature on a form can be such a prolonged and arduous journey? It means going downstairs. Oh, we do have a lift now. Now I’m standing outside a door, ear to the woodwork, to see if there are voices or a ‘come on in’. Oh no, it’s a lengthy phone call. Is it that regular call to Australia, which made me wonder why the phone bills had increased? No, it’s the vet as it seems the dog that’s sitting on the common room carpet has ‘piles’! (Carpets – piles?)

Fuddle draws near

1.00pm: Lunchtime approaches. I defer my trip to the garden centre as there’s a ‘fuddle’ in the common room. Free grub provided by a friendly rep, whom I’m expected to thank. I think it’s a health visitor’s last day. I recognise no one. “Are you the practice manager?” I’m asked. “No,” I say. “I’m the GDB…” That avoids a question or two as I scoff a bun or three. I hate gatherings so I leave as soon as there’s a gap in the crowd. I suppose I should return to my room. Oh, I must give the leaving present first! Who is it?

1:30pm: There’s that registered manager application to get on with. I’m told that the CQC can’t inspect us if it’s not up to date. He-he! Now that sounds like a good idea… Perhaps not! Then there’s the new partner’s form too. Another signature required.

Deadlines: the bane of my life

2:00pm: Well stuffed from all that grub, I return to my castle. My emails are mounting and while I don’t mind reading one page, I object to more with multi-paged attachments. Why is it that when I send an email asking a question, I rarely get a response more than a sentence long, and then there’s a deadline for my response. Quick visit to common room finds the doctors watching ‘Doctors’ on the TV! The dog is watching too. Wuff said!

In need of a P45

3:00pm: The payroll is finished and I need a new excuse to keep the wolves at bay! Shall I say I’m on leave tomorrow or I’m going home early today? It’s 3 o’clock already. The last time I said I was going home early, I was met with a load of abuse from a particularly awkward staff member along the lines of ‘you should be so lucky; don’t make a habit of it, and you’ll need to make up the hour’! I shan’t relate what I actually said but I might have made reference to printing P45s. I decide to continue looking at my CQC readiness… Well, perhaps not today! I plan my escape route before the phone rings again. It’s 6 o’clock. The dog’s gone and I’m off!

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Robert Campbell

Robert Campbell

Former GP Practice Manager with over 25 years experience working in Upton, near Pontefract, Seacroft in Leeds, Tingley in Wakefield, Heckmondwike and more recently Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire. www.gpsurgerymanager.co.uk

View all posts by Robert Campbell

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