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Accreditation for practice managers explained

The Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) has launched a new accreditation programme to enable practice management to be recognised as a distinct profession. IGPM director Robyn Clark explains how the process works.

Female manager speaking in a meeting
Practice managers can now become accredited by the IGPM (Picture: Getty Images)

The IGPM was set up as a professional representative body for anyone working in a management role within general practice. Its aim is to support the development and career progression of the general practice management community and provide a governing body through which managers can become accredited and fully recognised as a distinct profession.

We launched our accreditation programme on 21 June 2022. It is open to those in practice management roles across the UK.

The IGPM was formed primarily to address a lack of recognition for practice management as a profession. One of the first issues we aimed to address was the exclusion of practice managers from the government’s New to Partnership Scheme.

When IGPM director Jo Wadey challenged the decision not to include managers in the scheme, she was told by NHS England that we were not a recognised profession – in that we had no professional body, and there was no form of accreditation for managers in place. We immediately sought to redress this.

The IGPM has been established for over 18 months now and we now have over 1,000 registered members. The accreditation framework has taken some time to establish because we wanted to ensure it was robust and reflected the range of capabilities practice managers need for their role.

Why have an accreditation framework?

We wanted the framework to help address a number of issues:

  • To provide professional recognition for members who go through the accreditation process
  • To act as a career development tool for new and aspiring managers working in general practice
  • To act as a set of standards for what a good manager working in general practice should be doing/capable of
  • To entice people into the world of general practice management by clearly outlining the variety the role offers

The framework was created by myself in collaboration with Professor James Kingsland and a working group made up of IGPM regional representatives, all of whom are working practice managers. It was then peer reviewed by Michele Petrie, business and project development officer from Taurus Healthcare, a GP federation in Hertfordshire, and Louise Greenwood, education, development and training manager at Wessex LMC

What is in the accreditation framework?

The framework aligns itself to 10 domains – all of which form key components of the manager role in general practice. These cover:

  • Qualifications and achievements
  • Personal qualities, continuing professional development and working with others
  • Leadership, level of responsibility and accountability, strategic planning, vision and decision making
  • Managing and improving patient services
  • Working with patients
  • Workforce
  • Financial proficiency and practice fiscal stability
  • Estate and facilities management
  • Working with other organisations and service providers
  • Probity, legal and compliance, governance

How does the accreditation process work?

Candidates wanting to be accredited apply via an application form in which they need to demonstrate how they meet the requirements of each of the domains.

They also need to provide two references in support of their application – one from a senior colleague (a partner, clinical director or senior manager, for example) and one from a peer (such as a practice manager from a neighbouring practice or a PCN manager).

Candidates must also have been in a substantive managerial role in general practice for at least two years when they apply.

There are three application windows per year. Once each window closes the applications are sent out for assessment by our accrediting panels. Each application is reviewed by three different assessors using a closed marking system. The fee to apply for accreditation is £280.

In our first round of assessments, the four IGPM directors and eight regional representatives submitted applications for assessment by an external panel consisting of Professor James Kingsland, Paul Batchelor, honorary chair in the faculty of medicine at the University of Central Lancashire, honorary senior lecturer at University College London and dental lead for the National Association for Primary Care, and Robert Campbell, a former practice manager. Ten of the twelve applications were assessed as having met the required standard and Membership of the Institute of General Practice Management (MIGPM) was bestowed upon them.

Going forwards accredited directors and regional representatives will form the assessment panels for future applications.

Members who do not meet the required standard will be given feedback on where they fell short and will have the chance to resubmit their application in those specific areas for reassessment within a 12-month period.

This is a really exciting time for managers working in general practice to finally get the professional recognition that we deserve. It also helps to set the bar for what good management should look like.

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