With practice funding stretched to the limit and patient expectations higher than ever, having to choose between essential services and essential supplies seems almost impossible. Ultimately, GP partners want to treat patients and not just run a business, so practice managers have to help them make these tough decisions.
First you need to know where every penny goes, so you can identify where savings can be made. Persuading a GP partner to take action on such items should be straightforward, as they are unlikely to reject simple cost-saving items. Asking partners to identify savings themselves, in addition to their many other responsibilities, is unlikely to be effective. If you have already identified the practice costs, including the savings and suggested costs to cut elsewhere, then much of the hard work has been done.
Next, make a full-cost proposal: partners will take action if they understand the monetary implications and where savings could be reallocated. This also helps inform the discussion where there are conflicting views.
Are there services that, on the surface, are expensive but are highly utilised and offer such positive results that they must be retained or even bolstered?
At the opposite end, are there low-cost services that are under-utilised or of uncertain benefit that could be reduced or even discontinued?
Finally, commit to a date for a review of the cost-cutting measures, perhaps three or six months after they’ve been implemented. This will provide you with the chance to test whether the cuts have had any unintended consequences or have even led to an increase in costs elsewhere.
It will also provide a forum to consider reversing any contentious decisions. This should help persuade GP partners to take action within a given timeframe and make it harder for them to defer or ignore the issue.
Please contact Joe Hawes on the contact details below if you have any further questions about this article.