Part 3: What I Would Want a New GP Partner to Know Today

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If I had one super-power that I could give to new practices so they could thrive, it would be the ability to disagree.

When I think of all the ways the world has changed since I was a young man becoming a GP partner for the first time, I feel so much empathy for young doctors entering partnership today because it is a much more difficult world now than it was. I know that nostalgia is not what it used to be but, from my perspective, it appears that this new generation has everything we thought we wanted back then but has also lost things we didn’t even know we had. The deal for you now is often not nearly as good as the deal was for me and I would like to lend my advice to perhaps help you be better prepared to meet the challenges of today’s world.

When I think about what I would want any new GP becoming a partner today to know, one thing sticks out top of mind: I would want any new GP partner to know enough to be able to sleep at night. For that, they need to know enough about the running of the business to be able to be assured. Though there may be things they don’t need to know how to do—for example, preparing and submitting claims for care—they still need to know that it’s done. They need to be able to follow up with the practice manager and ask “Have the monthly claims been done?” I think, often, partners will confuse trust with verification and view asking for assurance as an expression of distrust. This view is not helpful and doctors, as senior managers, will often get confused between the relationship they have with their patients and the effect they have on their staff. I’ve seen frequently that, as a result, they don’t intervene quickly enough when things are slightly off course. Instead, they wait until things become intolerable and then very bad things happen.

If issues are addressed early on, it will often lead to change. If a member of staff could say in the beginning “Could you please not do that?” Or “could you please do that a different way because that way isn’t working,” and then follow it up with a meeting and written notes if the issue still persists, the problem can often be corrected before it leads to more serious complications. But what often happens is that problems are only addressed once they have progressed to a point where things have gone completely off-course and the only option seems to dismiss the offending team member. The offending person then often feels confused because nobody ever told them anything was amiss.

This is why the attitude of “We don’t do conflict,” does not actually help to prevent or avoid conflict but rather leads to more intense conflict that is harder to approach in healthy and productive ways. I believe that so much aggro and unpleasantness would be saved if people could simply say “Yeah, I don’t think that’s very good; can we aim for very good please?”

If I had one super-power that I could give to new practices so they could thrive, it would be the ability to disagree. Very often the mind-set is that there always has to be a clear right and a clear wrong. It isn’t considered that there could possibly be two rights, or a variety of different rights. This inability to see things in any other manner creates confusion within the psyche between one’s job role and one’s self. It means that if you would disagree with someone professionally it must mean you disagree personally as well. If you’re disagreeing personally, that must mean one of you is a good person and the other is a bad person.

Therefore, you can immediately jump straight from a different reading of a complex evidence paper—which is absolutely open to different interpretations and variables—to “you’re a bad person!” Well, hang on. Can’t we just disagree a bit and move on? If someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong, that means neither will be satisfied until the other agrees with them. So, you can happily get into a three-month argument about whether you buy a new kettle or not because, clearly, someone is right and someone is wrong, and neither will let it go until the other gives in. Or, the two can simply disagree and move on.

I hope you have found these insights helpful. At Xytal, we offer a complete training program designed specifically for the GP who is new to partnership to be better prepared for success in today’s world - our New to Partnership Programme. I invite you to reach out to us and see how we may be able to assist you and your organisation in meeting your goals.

I think, often, partners will confuse trust with verification and view asking for assurance as an expression of distrust. This view is not helpful and doctors, as senior managers, will often get confused between the relationship they have with their patients and the effect they have on their staff.