Breaking the cycle of despair: the support practices really need

18 May 2018

National policy is focused on strengthening general practice – both as a critical service in its own right and as an essential part of emerging integrated care systems. The reality on the ground is often at odds with the national vision, either because promised funding is slow to get through or because practices are too busy keeping the show on the road to worry about the luxury of improvement.

Yet commissioners and practices themselves know that without tackling fundamental issues, more practices will decline, fail or continue to set their sights no higher than survival.

PCC has worked with hundreds of practices to fix the things that are holding them back. We have helped struggling practices to get out of reverse gear. We have also helped practices before issues start to become terminal with interventions that allow them to recover their momentum and repair morale.

As well as diagnostics and recovery plans we offer a range of hands-on support, including advice, guidance and implementation support for:

  • Premises issues
  • Capacity and demand management
  • Skill mix and workforce
  • Finance process improvement
  • Tailored preparation for CQC inspection
  • Overcoming operational issues and challenges
  • Informal and formal collaboration from locality networks to mergers

The benefits for practices are obvious. Our service is about equipping practices to take control of their own futures not to depend on outside help. So it’s hands on only for as long as necessary, then we hand back to the practice team to do the rest.

That’s why we provide coaching and mentorship, short-term assistance for practice managers (including project support and temporary cover) and change management for individual practices and groups of practices. We also offer training for reception teams on customer service, care navigation and communications skills. 

Our team includes experienced practice managers and specialists with a mix of primary care and topic expertise.

The benefits to commissioners hardly need spelling out. Failing practices consume energy and resources as commissioners have to manage the fallout - reprocuring services, closing lists, dealing with sensitive media issues. Most importantly, patients are put at risk when practices decline. They may face anxiety, inconvenience or the risk of harm from poor-quality or severely overstretched services.

There are no easy solutions but there are better and worse outcomes. Our service for general practice is designed with the simple principle in mind that the best possible outcome for the practice is the best result for everyone.

To find out more about PCC’s practical support for practices, contact

Resources Primary/Community Services

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