Primary Care Leadership: The impact on GPs
With GPs under increasing pressure from the government, it is more important than ever to understand the role of good primary care leadership in creating a positive working environment and delivering safe, effective patient care.
Many doctors report a lack of GPs investing in clinical leadership skills, meaning their experience may be under represented in leadership circles. Getting people into leadership roles with the right skills and training to provide effective management for GPs can have a significant effect in a number of areas of clinical practice.
There are three key areas that can make a real difference to GPs when it comes to having good communication with their leaders.
Firstly, it is vital for leaders to keep GPs informed of anything that is likely to have an impact on their jobs, whether this be changes in procedures, clinical guidelines or anything else that will affect the way doctors work. If this information is not communicated clearly and in a timely fashion it can cause frustration and inadvertent mistakes.
Secondly, GPs must feel able and confident to report any issues back to management. This not only helps them feel engaged, but can allow issues to be dealt with, keeping doctors happy and allowing the quality of patient care to be improved.
Finally, leaders have to be able to provide appropriate and actionable feedback to GPs. This allows them to improve where necessary, but equally importantly, makes sure that they know when their good work is being recognised and appreciated.
Of course, for most GPs, being able to offer an appropriate level of clinical care to their patients is their top priority. It is the job of leaders to facilitate this by being understanding and responsive to GPs and providing an environment and work structures that allow them to do their job to the best of their ability.
One of the biggest issues here is, unsurprisingly, making sure that GPs get enough time with individual patients. There are a number of factors that affect this, but balancing GPs numbers with patient numbers is obviously one of the key areas managers can influence.
It is crucial to make sure GPs individual workload is managed correctly, with enough time given for breaks. It can be tempting for GPs to work through breaks to catch up, but ultimately this causes tiredness and can lead to a decline in overall care provision.
It is also important for leaders to make sure support staff have the appropriate training and resources to provide GPs with the help they need to offer effective care. Additionally, managers have to ensure GPs can access ongoing care services such as mental health crisis care and district nurses.
Good leadership in primary care is also absolutely fundamental for helping GPs to maintain acceptable standards of patient safety.
At the most basic level, this means making sure that shifts are scheduled correctly so there are always the right number of GPs available. Failing to do this means patients either can’t be seen or appointments become rushed making mistakes more likely.
It’s also up to management to ensure that all guidelines and practices are correctly communicated, monitored and enforced. This means they must make sure robust training policies and written guidelines are created and shared with GPs and support staff.
Primary care leadership teams also have to foster a culture of good record keeping, so that any potential issues are noted and can be dealt with. This cuts down on the opportunities for problems to be missed or mistakes to be made and encourages appropriate follow up action to be taken where issues do arise.
Join a healthcare team with outstanding primary care leadership
East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours Service (EBPC) is a non-profit social enterprise. We provide NHS services for East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups including urgent out-of-hours medical care. Our service covers Bracknell Forest, Slough, Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead.
A recent independent survey of our GPs found that 93.55% think EBPC is well led and 95.2% felt they were well supported by EBPC management. 93.55% of respondents agreed that communications between EBPC and doctors are good with over a third of respondents having worked for EBPC for over five years.
Perhaps most crucially in the current climate, 95.17% agreed that they can provide the level of clinical care they would wish to when working with the EBPC and 98.4% feel the service offered to patients is safe.
These results help to show that by providing great leadership and maintaining good communications with GPs, it is possible to create a supportive environment for doctors and deliver great care for patients.
EBPC has a strong focus on building and maintaining great working relationships with our GPs and we have great retention rates to show for it. We pride ourselves on offering a high level of support and advice alongside first rate primary care leadership.