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Could a mass exodus of PMs be on the cards?

by in GP Practice Management, News

mass exodusA recent survey on the Practice Index Forum has revealed just how bad the practice manager workload problem really is – with 97% of those who responded to the poll saying that they are overloaded with work.

Overall, 51% of practice managers that responded said they are now significantly overloaded, while just 2% of respondents said they weren’t struggling with workloads. The poll also revealed that over a quarter (27%) of respondents are actively planning to leave the NHS, further adding to the staffing crisis facing general practice (and that doesn’t include those leaving PM roles but remaining in the NHS).

The full results (at the time of writing) are as follows

How overloaded are you as a PM?

Significantly, and I am actively planning on leaving the NHS – 9.7%

Significantly, but I will stay and struggle on – 41.0%

Completely, but I will stay and struggle on – 21.4%

Completely, and I am actively planning on leaving the NHS – 17.5%

Moderately overloaded – 7.8%

Not overloaded – 1.9%

None of the above, but I’m leaving the NHS. I’ve had enough – 0.7%

Under the radar

While this most probably isn’t a surprise to you, the findings do highlight just how acute the workload problem is. And, as respondents to the poll said, it’s a problem that tends to go under the radar in the media compared to GP shortages or secondary care workloads.

Practice Index will try to put that right – we’re contacting the media with our survey findings – the problem is a big one, and one that does threaten to create a mass exodus of staff.

One practice manager, commenting on the Forum said: “Overload was my problem, so I found a brilliant assistant PM. Now we are both swamped! I’ve never had so many admin staff and receptionists but they are swamped too. The problem is, every time we get on top of things, something happens to push us back, such as IT failures, staff sickness, sudden arrival of long lost records from Caipta, a rush of registrations and so on. My team are so dedicated and flexible – but at some point the elastic will snap!”

Another PM added: “The problem is, practice managers never have support. We’re overloaded with tasks one after another. Whatever a GP is asked to do, it falls onto us, the overloaded PM, to do. There are too many bosses in the NHS so one hand does not know what the other is doing.”

We matter!

Burnout of all staff – not just GPs – is a real concern for practices up and down the country. After all, practices really couldn’t survive without practice managers.

So what can we do about it? One option is to leave, as simple as that, but not everybody wants to change their job. So, it’s probably time to start being more vocal – if you can find the time! Let’s shout about the problem to CCGs, LMCs, local papers, NHS trusts. Nobody (apart from Practice Index, of course) will do it for you.

In the meantime, it’s then a case of looking at workplace efficiency and possibly sharing resources. This is a topic we’ve covered before on Practice Index – click here to read more.

Finally, we’ll leave you with a comment from the Forum, which pretty much sums up the situation. “We all do impossible jobs. To have the range and scale of responsibilities that we all have, in the most infuriatingly overcomplicated environment, often being paid offensively low salaries… you have to be genuinely mad to want to do this.”

What are your views on this? Are you thinking of hanging up your PM’s shoes? Comment below or in the forum thread here


Trending topics in the forum:
Poll: PM overload
DWP outstanding payments
Inappropriate employment?
Time wasters

[Total: 5    Average: 4.4/5]
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8 Responses to “Could a mass exodus of PMs be on the cards?”
  1. Avatar
    Andy Says:

    There are 5 vacancies and an assistants vacancy in the Peterborough LCG. Talks of merger as a need to survive has rattled lots of managers. I think that the morale of mangers (in this patch anyway) has never been lower. Add that to the age of quite a few and the suddenly life after the NHS seems a better option. Sad times


  2. Avatar
    Sarah Says:

    The role of the PM is a thankless task. I have been working in my practice 31 years, 21 of these as PM and I have never known it to be as bad as this. Volume of work, ridiculously high patient expectations, and decreasing resources make it an unenviable role. I personally would love to walk away and leave the problem to someone else, but my loyalty to the GP Partners who have employed me all this time prevents me from doing this. They too have seen their working lives become intolerable, but for the benefit of our patients we all struggle on. The NHS continues to exist due to the loyalty of its staff, but how much longer can this be relied on ????


  3. Avatar
    Alan Moore Says:

    It would be interesting to know the background of the PMs who are actively seeking an exit – whether they have come in from outside the NHS or have grown up with it either in a central post or possibly practice Admin role? I do agree that PMs are under pressure and know myself of at least one who has suffered a major health incident which I suspect can only have been work-related. The one big issue which I believe is worthy of investigation out of all of this is how much of the pressure has been created by the Partners who won`t let Managers manage. I wonder if those who came in from outside are more able to manage `upwards` and not in the mindset that doctors always call the shots?


  4. Avatar
    Anonymous Says:

    First job as PM and after only 8 months in the job, where I was set the task of a complete practice overhaul from the ground up (mainly because the partners were panicking about an imminent CQC) I have worked my socks off to get my head around everything. To be honest we have improved many things, we get excellent patient and staff feedback, and I am working from dawn til dusk daily to keep the momentum going. However as mentioned we are overwhelmed with everyday workload and now we have been given our 2 week CQC notice. I feel devastated that we are probably still going to get blasted because there is still so much to do and to put in place. The practical things are coming together but the policies are coming along slowly (no point just filling templates if I or the staff don’t know whats in them) and pulling written evidence together has been a struggle so far – head is screaming do everything – prioritising when so much important stuff still needed is hard. GP Partners told me to stop al other work and focus on CQC! If they knew what I was doing all day every day they might realise that simply is not entirely possible. So this CQC will probably the thing that makes the ‘elastic snap’ as your PM said….


    • Avatar
      Anonymous Says:

      I get that all the time – I have said this and I may as well talk to a wall – The Partners do not want to know what all the other work is as they see it as menial. Until they sit and experience the front line for themselves, they will never realise the type of work that the PM actually does on top of keeping all the boxes ticked. Chin up – It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job – 2 weeks and it will all be over.


  5. Avatar
    Anonymous Says:

    Moral is very low within Primary care. There are so many PM’s who tell me that they have had enough, very accomplished PM’s too! All it seems to be is inspection upon inspection. The workload has increased to a ridiculous amount, so much paperwork. The resources have been drying up since 2012 but we are expected to carry on as before the cuts Everyone including the reception staff are fed up to say the least. All the external bodies are so draconian. Needless to say we all know where this is heading………..


  6. Avatar
    Paula Says:

    I am shocked and very sad to say I find myself currently at a loss around my future plans not only as a PM but in healthcare. I cant believe how you can go through such emotional turmoil and rollercoaster experiences from one day to the next. Sometimes you have to give yourself a break and ask if it’s actually worth it anymore. I have gone from one very proud PM, managing 2 practices, gaining outstanding in CQC and engaged with so many amazing people and thoroughly enjoyed and welcomed the challenge……to “why isn’t it ever enough”. I also feel institutionalised and loyal as well as passionate about the great work we do and I am struggling with where I can go next? Im not scared of hard work, but when if makes you feel so exhausted and unsupported then it’s time to look at things and try and recognise who you are again. We give so much of ourselves and even the most up beat people can be dragged down…..Group HUGGGGG xx


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