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Private Practice networks

Private Practice networks

The College would like to see a revival of the Private Practice Network (PPN) system. During the restructuring process of the College committees, the private practice elements were amalgamated into the Independent Practice Group (IPG), which in turn is part of the Membership Committee. The IPG would like to assist members in setting up PPNs to encourage local supportive working groups and create a route whereby individual practitioners can feed ideas into the IPG. Clearly, the objective must be about ways in which we can run effective and efficient businesses. This is not about trying to recreate branch-type structures as branches are already included in the Membership Committee structure. This is about giving private practitioners a collective voice and an outlet for that voice. Running a practice can be a lonely place professionally and members can only benefit from cross fertilisation of ideas from other practitioners.


So, what is a PPN?

The simple answer is, anything you want it to be. That can range from yourself and a couple of friends going out for a drink and chatting about your businesses, to a large group of members in private practice having regular monthly or quarterly meetings with guest speakers. The first part of the equation is to have someone who is prepared to be the network co-ordinator. This is the key role in ensuring that the PPN functions properly and does not simply fade away after a few get-togethers. The co-ordinator ensures that meeting dates are set in advance, has the contact details of the group, such as phone numbers, emails or social media, and is prepared to be the main point of contact for the group.

History of PPNs

In their current form, PPNs were established just over 15 years ago by the Committee for Private Practice. The original idea was to create groups of private practitioners who would meet, on an informal basis, to discuss business issues that came up in their day-to-day work. The concept was to see each other as colleagues who could help one another rather than the feeling that other local practices were the ‘competition’ who you would not discuss your business affairs with. With the help of the, then Society, the concept was rolled out nationwide, which resulted in several PPNs being created, many of which (including my own) still operate today.

What does the College propose to do?

We have been collecting data on current networks, which are somewhat patchy. We have, however, had several enquiries from interested practitioners who would like to set up a PPN. It is our wish to create a structure to help groups set up PPNs. This needs to be on a regional basis so that new PPN co-ordinators can be established to create their own PPNs. We would like the co-ordinators to feed in their ideas and needs through the IPGs. This is not to reduce the informal nature of PPNs but rather to give them a say in what they want from the College.

The next steps

We will set up meetings on a regional basis with existing co-ordinators, hosting sessions on what is involved in the role of a PPN co-ordinator. For those members going to the Conference in Harrogate this year, there will be an informal lunchtime break-out session on creating PPNs, hosted by the IPG. To follow up, we will ask existing network co-ordinators to write to us about how their networks operate and what they do.

Dr Allan Wood

Chair of the Independent Practice Group

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