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How to... Run a good practice meeting

Running a general practice successfully involves implementing a well-thought-out overall practice policy and taking day-to-day decisions crisply and effectively. The practice meeting has a crucial role to play in this. Decisions made by the partners should be communicated from the 'top down', so that everybody knowe what they have to do and where they stand.

If this happens, all is sweetness and light. If it doesn't, disaster can result.

Tips on running a successful practice meeting should include the following:

1 Have one individual in charge of setting up the meeting and drawing up the agenda. This person can be a partner or practice manager who can co-opt others to help if necessary. The organiser can rotate.

2 Ensure that all participants – doctors, nurses, administrators and others – think the practice meeting is useful. They must all see the relevance of such meetings and know that decisions made will be acted upon once they have been suitably debated.

3 Pick a time and place that are convenient for the majority of those invited to attend. With ever-larger primary care teams, it is increasingly difficult to ensure 100 per cent attendance.

4 Have a clearly written agenda containing no more subjects than can be covered within the time allotted.

5 Select a good chairperson. He or she must be open to the opinions expressed by all those present but willing to cut short any deviation from the subject under discussion. It is difficult to set a rigid time limit for each speaker, but the chairperson must be aware of when a speaker has run their course.

6 Start and finish the meeting on time. This increases the confidence of those attending that future meetings will not mess up their day. Expect attendees to be at the meeting punctually. Those who can't make it should send their apologies.

7 Actions need to be acted on. Minutes from previous meetings give an opportunity for the responsible individual to confirm this has occurred.

8 Everyone's opinion should be respected and given equal weight. The self-confident opinionated individual should never be allowed to talk down the more reserved and shy.

Dr Jim Sherifi is a GP in Sudbury, Suffolk

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