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Independents' Day

Eight ways to maximise profit

In the last of his series, Dr Sohail Butt offers suggestions on how to maximise your profit and keep care standards high over the next 12 months

In the last of his series, Dr Sohail Butt offers suggestions on how to maximise your profit and keep care standards high over the next 12 months

How can you keep your workload manageable, your staff happy and yet maintain high profits and standards of care?

1. Be proactive
Take responsibility for everything in your work life, instead of blaming the Government or the PCT. Once everyone sees and accepts what is going on, you can get talking about taking the initiative in the new NHS healthcare market. Making plans and taking action will then follow.

2. Delegate
GP partner time is very expensive. Aim to delegate as much management work as possible. Ideally the GP partners should act as board members, formulating policy for the business manager to implement.

Look at your clinical work and identify what can be delegated to nursing or administration staff. They in turn will need to shed tasks that are no longer needed. Make sure the lines of clinical and management accountability are explicit. Work out the ideal skill mix for your practice. The most cost-effective model is increased numbers of reception staff, healthcare assistants, practice nurses and nurse practitioners and a smaller number of GPs.

3. Manage tasks productively
Most professionals and business executives have personal systems for managing information and tasks. Many clinicians have found David Allen's book Getting Things Done ( a useful way to empty the in-tray and handle the unexpected demands of clinical practice efficiently.

4. Review workload regularly
Partners must feel income reflects new workload fairly, especially if they have different responsibilities. Hold regular meetings to review and adjust workload. This encourages GPs to take on new roles if required.

Partners may need to review how many hours they work and how much income they aspire to, and days off, half days, evenings and weekend arrangements.

5. Give each partner defined new objectives
If your business plan requires partners to take on new roles, you need to make sure they go to the most able and motivated people. Get all the partners to look objectively at their individual strengths and weaknesses. Myers Briggs and Belbin questionnaires are useful for this.

6. Focus on your next actions when developing services
It is common to spend hours discussing theoretical plans for new services, but not make any meaningful plans. Meetings must lead to realistic decisions. A discussion on a PBC group-wide warfarin monitoring service should conclude with a commitment for someone to produce a service model within a set timeframe.

7. Listen to everyone
GPs will need to consult with PCTs, hospital providers, local authorities and patients when developing services. Listen to what they have to say, then you can produce new services that meet everyone's needs. Only then should you try to communicate your own views and needs.

8. Link with other organisations
GPs may be developing services with PCTs, hospital providers, local authorities, patients and private corporations. Look for ways to link with these organisations that add value to your efforts. For instance, a group of GPs could start providing services from a local hospital that is looking to downsize acute services.

Finally, learn to pace yourself and relax.

Dr Sohail Butt is a GP and managing partner in Ashford, Middlesex

• Book early for our September seminar on maximising profits in Leeds

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