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7 Practical Top Tips to Achieve Successful Transformation in Primary Care

Updated: May 31, 2023

Highlights from the Primary Care Partnership Network | Milton Keynes

I think it’s always super inspiring to hear the different approaches of leaders spearheading change despite the challenges that general practice face. It’s always really easy to forget the insights shared at conferences, so in this blog, I wanted to highlight some of the key takeaways from some conversations which took place at the Primary Care Partnership Network event, which took place on the 17th and 18th May in Milton Keynes.

Dr James Kingsland OBE was the event Chair who kicked off by reminding us not to reinvent the wheel or ‘flat tyre’ and to learn the lessons from the past. With this in mind, this list of things to consider to achieve successful transformation in primary care may likely not present anything new, but you will hear what works from people who have and are successfully leading change.

You will see simple and foundational concepts which are hard to implement.

Because they are hard, many of you will brush these aside and look for something new, but Dr Annette Pautz, a GP in Kingston, reminded us that patience is a virtue, and Dr Arvind Madan reinforced that cultural persistence is key.

Cultural persistence is the persistence of "cultural traits" like customs, beliefs, and behaviours over time.

Let's jump in!

How to deliver successful transformation in primary care?

1. Over-communicate

Communicate, communicate, communicate was the message from Nina Jhita from Modality, who led the implementation of Robotic Automation Processes across 50 general practices in Modality to reduce duplication and improve the working lives of their practice teams.

This message was echoed by Dr Annette Pautz, who talked about the need for engagement at all levels.

One-to-one, town hall meetings, workshops, online and in person with everyone who has a stake in the change to secure buy-in and support.

2. Understand the politics

Arvind Madan, GP and Founding Partner Hurley Group, talked about the importance of being politically astute, understanding where the power lies and understanding the edge of your permissions.

This is extremely important as you navigate around the system.

Do you go for it and ask for forgiveness…?

Arvind called for us to be brave in the face of uncertainty and invent our own future.

3. Apply critical thinking

For Vincent Sai, Chief Executive Officer of Modality, the vision is simple and always has been, and he applies a simple framework to aid his critical thinking.

He is looking to understand the following:

  • The why

  • How to operationalise it

  • The funding supporting it

Without these 3 factors aligned, the chances of success are low.

4. A positive mental attitude

Vincent (pictured above) also reminded us not to get caught up in the hype and to focus on the things within our control, to believe in ourselves and to value our professional identities and different disciplines. General Practice and primary care require a multi-disciplinary team, positivity and a united front.

5. Peer Support

Dr Aruna Garcea, Chair Primary Care Network at NHS Confederation, talked about the need for peer-to-peer support and progressive leadership.

Leading can be lonely, but the kind of good thing about general practice and Primary Care Networks is that there are lots of us that feel this way and lots of groups for us to join. The NHS Confederation has its Primary Care Network membership, and there are also lots of WhatsApp and Facebook groups.

We do not need to do this by ourselves. There is support out there and lots of best practice and lessons learnt for us to build from.

6. Allow staff to work at the top of their licence.

A significant investment goes into hiring and trying to retain staff, so one thing we must do is allow staff to do their job to the best of their ability and to fully utilise the skills and experience they have gained.

Train them, support them, talk to them but give them a level of autonomy to work at the top of their license.

It's our people that will make the change happen.

🎯 What one thing from this list can you delve a bit deeper into to shape your next step?

7. Widen the pool of recruitment.

I shared with Dame Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the importance of widening the net when it comes to the recruitment of clinical AND non-clinical roles.

We need to try harder to showcase the career opportunities the health and care sector has to offer.

I used to work at McDonalds, and it was only by chance that I ended up working in healthcare.

She asked me…. Do you like what you do?

I was like... absolutely. I love (most 😉) of the people, the variety, the challenge and the opportunity to make a small difference.

This is why I'm so passionate about the PCN Management role.

But once we attract talent from diverse backgrounds, we must support them and not discriminate against them.

I hope this provides food for thought.

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About the Author

I'm Tara; I am the founder of THC Primary Care, an award-winning healthcare consultancy specialising in Primary Care Network Management and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast, where we have now published over 240 episodes.

I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors, and I have supported over 120 PCNs by providing interim management, training and consultancy.

I have managed teams across multiple sites and countries; I have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care, and I am the author of over 250 blogs.

I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome, and my youngest daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, so outside of work, healthcare plays a huge role in my life.


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