A day in the life of… a Wessex LMCs Medical Director

Dr Will Howard, Medical Director, Wessex Local Medical Committees Ltd

As an organisation, Wessex LMCs is here to represent and support GPs, Practice Managers, Nurses, and the rest of the Primary Care Team.

Back at the main offices of Wessex LMCs there is a team of professionals making that happen behind the scenes. We want to let you know what your LMC office team is doing on your behalf and so, over the coming year, we will be giving you a snapshot of the people that make up the Wessex LMC family, and what they are doing to support you and your Practice.

As the first LMC office member out of the traps, I am going to give you a brief synopsis of the world of a Medical Director. I am also a working GP currently on the Retainer scheme in Southwest Hampshire. I work 3 days a week at the LMC and have been in post for two and half years now. I have been a GP Partner for 22 years before this career move and I can say I have learned a vast amount since coming to the LMC team. The level of detail and scrutiny the office team undertakes on Practices’ behalf is enormous. We spend a lot of time responding to specific queries mainly via email and telephone. These vary from queries about practice complaints and difficult patients to contractual issues and questions about the availability of services for patients. We also attend many meetings representing General Practice and the GP view. This includes potential contractual changes such as enhanced service reviews and ICB operational meetings. My experience of these meetings is that we are often the only voice of general practice amongst a powerful secondary care and ICB chorus and we see this role as vital to our profession at a local level.

A large part of the role of an LMC Medical Director is to support GPs who are going through a difficult time that might be impacting their ability to work. There is a lot in the medical media about “burnout” and we can support GPs going through this. We also know that when a GP receives a complaint or a GMC investigation, they can find this difficult to manage and we offer support during these difficult periods. We can be present during disciplinary “panels” to support GPs. The office team speaks to GPs and Practice Managers about HR issues affecting their staff, information governance (IG), and data concerns, and we also have specialist knowledge of primary care estates. We regularly meet with specialist medical accountants, solicitors, and surveyors to pick their brains, alongside interacting with CQC and patient groups such as Healthwatch on behalf of practices. Practices have been increasingly working with each other more closely since the inception of the PCN DES. Equally some practices are considering mergers or more formal working relationships, and we can use our experience to support negotiations. Equally, sometimes relationships can turn sour, and we can facilitate meetings to put right things that have gone wrong in the past.

Reflecting on the role of the LMC Medical Director is interesting. Having been a GP for almost 25 years in total, I thought I knew it all before starting at the LMC. It has been a steep learning curve for me, but the office team really is a font of information for practices to use and equally, if we don’t know the answers, we know where to find them. Running a general practice in today’s climate can be extremely challenging. We aim to take some of the sting out of this by supporting practices to provide the best care to their communities. A challenge – but very rewarding work.


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