A 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.”
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.