One of the main topics on day one of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) conference, held on 9 October at the NEC in Birmingham, was leadership. In particular, leadership at a time of structural shifts within primary care and constant reshuffling in our own national government. Leadership has never been more tempestuous and more necessary.
In a discussion held in the keynote theatre, several influential voices in primary care gave audiences their take on leadership today – and Healthcare Leader is here to break down the key points for you.
Transforming systems of care
Dr Nav Chana, national primary care home (PCH) clinical director of the NAPC, opened proceedings by explaining what he believed the seven most important attributes of leadership are. Some of these may be familiar. However, they serve as a useful starting point for anyone considering leadership positions.
- Recognise the need for change – what are the gaps in services in your practice? Who is being left behind? What can be done better?
- Create the spark for action – understand what you can do to change that.
- Build relationships with colleagues and those outside of the medical community – are there organisations you have not previously considered? Are you making the most of the connections you already have?
- Come up with innovative methods – think outside the box.
- Make the most of the time and resources you have – if there is a need for more resources, how do you prove that you need them?
- Think about a new approach – collaborate with another practice or colleague, or even someone with more expertise than you.
- Use data and analytics – this is the evidence you need to prove why you need additional resources or to demonstrate the achievements you have made so far.
Create a staff culture
Dr Stewart Smith, GP and medical director at St Austell Healthcare PCH, highlighted the need for all professionals in a practice to think about collaboration at every opportunity, upskill your existing workforce and be open to working with unfamiliar sectors. Dr Smith explained that using staff culture surveys improved the work environment: ‘Our GPs are happier and the workload is decreasing, it really has gone from a place of near collapse to somewhere that’s really vibrant and optimistic about the future. In terms of leadership, the key to that transformation […] was in our case, building a platform.’
‘Us and us’
Encouraging staff has to be consistent if you want their productivity and wellbeing to be consistently high. NAPC PCH faculty member and former managing partner at Newport Pagnell PCH, Caroline Rollings said: ‘I think we absolutely have to move from “us and them” to “us and us”.
‘Move from understanding and protecting our boundaries to working across boundaries, which is quite as ask when we’re inundated with work but actually, in the end, it reduces our workload.’ Valuing all roles within a practice enables everyone to feel as though they can come forward and suggest solutions, changes and improvements.