Every GP practice needs someone at the helm to manage its day-to-day needs and keep everything on track. Each of Northumbria Primary Care’s GP Practices have Practice Lead who manages the day-to-day operations of the practice. They ensure that our practices run efficiently for patients and that our clinical teams have the support and tools they need.

We caught up with Andrew Barclay, the Practice Lead at 49 Marine Avenue Surgery, to find out a bit more about what it takes to be a practice lead, why he loves his job and how NPC’s model facilitates him to do his job.

Hi Andrew, could you give us a little bit of background to your role?
Sure! I started my career working at SCS’s head office in Sunderland within their IT department. I joined the company at a bit of an odd time; as I was starting a lot of longstanding members of staff had recently left, which meant that I was effectively left to run the IT department. After a while, I started to look at new roles and landed a position managing the IT for a GP practice in Newcastle where I stayed for 17 years. I found that I was eager for a new challenge so made the move to NPC! When I first joined, my role was managing Medical Technicians and Coders based at Northumbria House but this quickly evolved and I moved to 49 Marine Avenue Surgery as their practice lead.

Why did you join Northumbria Primary Care?
I’d been in my previous practice for a long time and was looking for a new challenge. After seeing the NPC role, I became really interested in how primary care at-scale could work. It was an interesting opportunity that I think I would have regretted not exploring further.

What do you love about your job?
You never know what you’re going to get the next day. There are always curveballs being thrown at you and it keeps you on your toes. I think every practice manager would agree with me when I say that no two days are the same. For some people this might be a bit daunting, but I love the variety and challenges it presents.

Working in a GP practice is also a really unique environment; it’s completely unlike anywhere else. Pulling together as a team, everyone in sync and working together is a great feeling. It’s a sense of camaraderie that I thrive off.

There’s also a huge sense of job satisfaction. At the end of the day, all we want to do is provide the highest level of care to our patients and make sure they feel heard and understood. Visiting your GP can be a scary and worrying time, so it’s great when we can make the process as smooth as possible and bring calmness to what is possibly a really difficult time.

What can be the challenges of your role?
There are so many moving parts in a GP practice and one of the main challenges is making sure everything stays balanced. If things become unbalanced, small issues can create a domino effect that results in much bigger problems. This is why it’s so vital to have strong and trusting relationships with your colleagues, so you know you can rely on each other to get the job done.

How does NPC support you in overcoming those challenges?
NPC’s model lends itself to practices feeling more supported as they have access to a network of skills, experience and resources. I know that if I need a different perspective on a problem, I can speak to a lead from another practice and they’ll offer up some insight. This relationship between the practices extends to staffing and supply issues. If a member of our reception team is unwell, we know that we can lean on the other NPC practices to provide us with support and are similarly able to help other teams out when needed. Across NPC, we’ve got such a wide range of experience and skill sets and it’s brilliant to be able to tap into that. Everyone is so willing to help and empower those around them that it makes for such a positive and supportive environment. It’s reassuring to know that even when things can get a bit hectic that you’ve got good people around you to help you out!

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