As PMA launch its 2022 Awards Programme, we chat to Sarah Rhodes-Bickerdyke, of the Avicenna Medical Practice in Bradford, who picked up the PMA Practice Business Manager of the Year Award in 2021…

How do you start your day?
I log straight into the system, double check any urgent e-mails, plan my day, see what meetings I have booked in then sort System One ready for the day ahead.

Once I know everything’s ready, I grab a cup of coffee and off we go..

No two days are the same. But what does a typical day look like for you?
Planning rotas and checking staff are OK and happy! Then moving staffing around to make sure the surgery runs efficiently if we have staff off. Checking targets and QOF, planning ahead so we meet targets and achieve the best we can, helping patients, dealing with queries, being involved with the PCN and ICS answering and sending any data requests, checking the finances, chasing monies and making sure everything is on order.

What else? Well looking for business opportunities, invoicing, paying bills and helping the partners with any practice queries. Appraisals, performance reviews, payroll, accounts, recruitment are all dotted amongst. Staff training and forward planning for the practice. As you say, there is no such day as a typical day and you have to be ready to move with what is needed on that day. What you had planned may not happen due to something else such as an IT crisis or phone issues, staff off – so reception needs cover or we need to find a locum.

Pretty busy then! What do you enjoy most about your work?
The variety and changing situations! Nothing is the same and you have to think on your feet, solve problems and make sure everything is as good as it can be.
I enjoy working with different people and motivating them to do their best, having positive comments from staff, patients and third parties and meeting and exceeding targets and set achievements.

What has been the biggest challenge of the pandemic?
Staffing, keeping up morale and patients’ needs and demands. Things have changed so much and staff are undervalued in General Practice at the moment. The extra hours, the constant changing of regulations all made work very hard, so trying to balance all of this and keep yourself mentally well was a huge struggle.

How do you relax and recharge?
I don’t think I ever truly relax, I am a bit of a workaholic! I can’t switch off completely but that’s me and I accept that. I have tried to make a concerted effort, though, to have my weekends with my family, my husband and children are very important to me.

I like to make sure others are OK, and ensuring we – as a team and practice – are doing a good job and doing everything we can for our patients. I run off energy from achieving good things, and accepting we’ll never be perfect but we always do our best and push for better things.