case study:  Project activities delivered to the GP Conference for Practice Managers by Kernow Health CIC

Overview of the project

Kernow Health Community Interest Company (KHCIC) is a GP owned social enterprise, committed to delivering quality primary healthcare in Cornwall. It uses its profits to develop services to support GPs and improve primary care in the county.

Specifically, the Kernow Health Training Hub provides services around recruitment, retention, education, and training for multi-disciplinary teams. It identifies skills gaps and facilitates creative training for the ESF Business Clusters project.

Sector Priorities

A key sector priority is around recruitment and development including training and upskilling staff, and staff retention.

It was recognised that Practice Managers and support staff often work in isolation in busy practices, and the aim of the Practice Managers Autumn conference was to bring them together so they could:

  • Gain peer support following the pandemic in 2020, and subsequent increased demand from the public
  • Discuss the priorities and challenges, and share solutions
  • Develop confidence and resilience
  • Feel part of the wider health system

Several workshops were organised as part of the day.
The target outcome being that Practice Managers would
gain confidence, knowledge, and ideas to professionally
develop their own skills.

Regional Drivers

It had been established that there was little of no specialist training for Practice Managers in Cornwall.

It was therefore agreed that some dedicated training for Practice managers, Assistant Practice Managers and Line Managers with staff responsibility would be arranged.

Project Delivery

What need was identified?
Nicola Davies MA MIGPM is the Practice Manager at Roseland Surgeries and the President of the Institute of General Practice Managers.

Nicola wanted to reinstate a Practice Manager conference in Cornwall, something which had not been done since the pandemic in 2020.

How did the project fulfil these needs?
Kernow Health supported the event arrangements/organisation by finding a venue, negotiating a rate, and contributing some funding by subsidising the delegate rate. Nicola from Roseland Surgeries compiled the agenda and contacted the speakers. Kernow Health ensured the event ran smoothly.

The event resulted in impacts far wider than to the employer. The event was successful in bringing general Practice Managers across Cornwall together providing them with the opportunity to share their experiences, knowledge, and ideas to take back to their own practices for future improvements.

This increased individuals’ confidence to be able to competently make improvements knowing they have the support of their peers so they can progress and professionally develop their own skills and further develop their own career pathways.

One of the biggest impacts was from a couple of delegates who were either considering leaving general practice or who were struggling through being isolated.

With the pressures of recruitment and retention being one of the biggest challenges in primary care, the conference helped to address these issues and both delegates felt they were incentivised to continue after the conference

What was delivered?
The Practice Manager Conference was an all-day event held at the Atlantic Hotel, Newquay on Wednesday 16th November 2022, represented by Kernow Health, Roseland Surgeries and the Institute of General Practice Managers (IGPM). The positive feedback has resulted in a further PM conference being planned for November 2023.

Business Insight, Impact and Feedback

Nicola says that: “The Practice Managers’ Conference held in November last year was the first in over 3 years. It is fair to say that morale amongst my colleagues is at an all-time low and we have a number of Managers who will be retiring within the next 3-5 years – this creates issues around resilience (for those in post) and recruitment of course. Practice Managers spend their time supporting their front-line staff, admin/dispensary teams as well as clinicians, but the gap is more around who is supporting us, often working in isolation with little support.”

“The conference brought together almost every Practice Manager in Cornwall, along with a small number of Assistant Practice Managers (who may indeed be the future generation!) We also saw a couple of Primary Care Network Strategic/Business Managers. We had five speakers who attended in person and two who were there ‘virtually’ thanks to the IT team who provided some much-needed support to enable this to happen. The speakers were picked specifically for topics pertinent to General Practice – and all offered an opportunity for Q&A after their presentations.”

“We also had a number of guests present who were available for ad hoc conversation, based around the room, able to participate in the group discussion but also able to provide bespoke advice and support around their topics. We had representation from Kernow Health CIC Training Hub and this enabled us to discuss further the training opportunities available to non-clinical teams.”

“Overall, there was a ‘buzz’ about the room which I hadn’t felt for a long time – lunch gave us all the opportunity to sit and talk and in fact, part of the feedback was such that this networking was one of the most important aspects of the day. There was such positivity around, it was truly amazing. The best bit of feedback I received though was from one attendee who told me personally that she was on the verge of resigning, but as a result of the support she felt from her colleagues during the day, and a reminder about all the work that is going on in Cornwall to help and support managers in post, she had changed her mind and was going to access more of the resources available.”

“The support that I had from Judy and her team [at Kernow Health] enabled the day to run smoothly – without this, the day wouldn’t have happened in any format, and I am very grateful to her for getting this off the ground.”