GP Trouble Shooter

In the increasingly stressful world of GP practice, with ever more pressures on profitability it is very difficult to take a step back and see whether the practice is operating efficiently. Are procedures fit for purpose, and is there an effective system of communication throughout the practice so everyone knows who is doing what? Even if things appear to be working well, scratching beneath the surface will often expose inefficiencies that are costing the practice money.

All very well, you will say, but how do we find the time to carry out a practice review when we are flat out already trying to cope with all the new rules NHS England are imposing on us, and of course giving a good service to our patients?

That is where we come in. We have obtained the services of a trouble shooter specifically to go into GP practices, to do any or all of the following:

  • Review systems and procedures,
  • Critically examine specific areas of concern,
  • Implement more effective budgetary controls,
  • Coping with and planning for the changing NHS, and
  • Determining whether existing accounting procedures are fit for purpose.

We have deliberately selected a consultant without an NHS background; someone who has instead earned his spurs in the cut and thrust of the commercial world and can bring the skills obtained in that intense and competitive business environment to GP practices, who, faced with numerous challenges, have to operate as businesses themselves. Trevor Bailey has over forty years’ experience as an accountant in industry, ending up as a finance director within a FTSE 100 company employing over 41,000 staff worldwide.

OK, so we have an excellent consultant, but how can we be so sure he can bring something of value to your practice?  Trevor has just completed a six month assignment at one of the practices we do act for, covering for the finance manager, and we are able to set out below comments firstly by Trevor, on the areas where he was able to help the practice, and secondly by the senior partner at that practice, on the benefit Trevor’s time with them has brought.

Trevor writes: “An efficient GP practice seeks to provide service excellence in an area that has prime importance to all of us - the health and wellbeing of the population. A successful business melds effective operational expertise with knowledgeable, efficient, organised and timely back office support to satisfy the customer needs.

The biggest impact I made within the Edmund Carr client I assisted was not to act as an internal auditor but provide a fresh perspective on what was happening around all of us. A simple discussion around 360° patient perspectives can focus attention on the appropriateness and quality of data collected directly or indirectly (social media) and confirm the action needed on communication systems.  A review of existing support partners (Bankers, Accounting software providers, payroll & HR, Accountants, Insurance Brokers, Utilities etc.) provided an opportunity to examine SLA’s and assess quality of support and value for money.  The Practice reduced costs in some areas and benefited from improved performance in others.  Staff costs were the biggest financial outlay, discussion around definition of roles and team interaction gave the biggest potential for efficiency and financial improvement, this goes hand in hand with process and policy review and establishing “buy in” for change.  The commercial world continuously debates and develops paths for “best in class” performance.  Ongoing assessment and benchmarking are an essential part of this.  A new financial performance review tool was made available to the partners; KPIs for historic and forecast data provide tools to direct attention to where it is needed and gives a single source of information for the team to manage their business.  The position of GP practices is fluid, you cannot provide a fix but you can propose and encourage solutions that leave a team in an improved position to tackle and address the challenges ahead.”

The view from the other side of the table, as expressed by the senior partner of the practice Trevor assisted is as follows:

Dr Richard Burack writes: “At a time when we found ourselves extremely vulnerable, 2 months before year end, and our finance manager had gone off long-term sick, our Accountants (Edmund Carr) made the suggestion of us using a contact/colleague of theirs who had been a Finance Director within a FTSE company and who might be available to provide some financial support and continuity for us.  Six months later, we welcomed back our finance manager and reluctantly said goodbye to Trevor, who had provided us with sound, solid and robust financial support in what was his first significant NHS Primary Care position.  As the financial lead partner, I found his support, calm approach and logical sensible thought and audit provoking processes refreshing and extremely useful.  His re-design of our forward budget planning spreadsheets was brilliantly presented and is now in use to help us plan for the future and realise where the financial challenges ahead may lie, before they actually come barging through the door.  I would whole heartedly recommend to any of my GP colleagues, large or small, to consider using the services of Trevor, to assist with your financial planning and strategy.”

More convinced now? There is of course another question; how much is this going to cost?  The current charge for an hour of Trevor’s time is £60 plus VAT. Assignment lengths could vary depending on the scope of the work agreed at the outset.

We hope this new addition to the range of services we are able to offer GPs will be of interest, and if so please do not hesitate to contact one of our medical sector team to arrange a free of charge no obligation meeting with Trevor and one of our medical sector team.