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05th September 2013

Practice meetings

Oh no, not another meeting!  More time spent sitting on the hard office chairs.  More time away from the `real job`.  More time having to cope with the carping of disgruntled staff.  Well we have to think about why staff are unhappy, could it be that they don`t feel heard?  Practice meetings are also an easy and practical way of providing an auditable proof of CQC compliance and sometimes an hour away from the coalface can actually be challenging in a good way.

Your attendance is essential (in a group practice, at least one Principal/Partner should attend) for several reasons. Not just because of the chance to engage in dialogue and get direct staff feedback, but because your participation underscores to staff the importance of the meeting. Be present in mind as well as body – yes, that means putting down the iphone.

Why do it?

Regular Practice Meetings are for the benefit of your staff, practice, and patients.  Solutions to problems agreed at a practice meeting are more successful because everyone has had a chance to input and can feel ownership of the action.  It is possible to introduce everything from new policies to new staff in one session rather than lots of different times during the week.

The minutes of practice meetings become evidence and part of the audit trail for incident reporting and risk management.  When policies are discussed, the minutes are evidence of employee involvement.  When patient complaints, satisfaction questionnaires and comments are discussed, the minutes become evidence of patient involvement.   And so on….

Modern practice requires a focus on quality, efficiency and continual improvements. It needs well-defined and consistent policies and procedures. It demands staff who understand their role and performance expectations and feel like they’re contributing, and it calls for coordinated efforts…… and, with a little effort, it can be fun!

When held?

Make `get-togethers` a priority.  If you wait for spare time in the practice diary for a meeting, it will never happen. How often you hold meetings is up to you, but what matters is organising them ahead of time and not cancelling at the last minute, just like a patient appointment.

From experience, lunchtimes are best as they don`t affect income.  You need to make it attractive too, so provide sandwiches and cake – bribery works in this case, and chocolate can be the best currency.

How organised?

Smooth-running meetings have a `chairperson` to make sure the meeting stays on topic and moves along.  However, this should not necessarily be `the boss`, make a rolling rota for meeting leader so that everyone has a chance to be directly involved.  Select only as many topics as you can cover in an hour (or less), allot time for each, and establish a firm end point.   Don`t get side-tracked into side issues, if something important comes up then put it on the next agenda.  Don’t let one person dominate the conversation, try to involve each member of staff, or at least give them the opportunity.

What covered?

It`s important to have some fixed agenda items including incident reporting, even if they are not used each time.  Look for regular items that can meet compliance evidence collection, but also give people a chance to bring up practical worries about procedures in the surgery/reception.

Leave time to recognize staff for accomplishments, and hold up members of your team as role models. This is a perfect opportunity to show appreciation for your staff (good for morale) and end the meeting on a positive note.


Dr. John Shapter – QCS GP Expert Contributor

Topics: GPs

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