Glowing praise for private PAs

By Edie Bourne
BSMA secretary award

Winning combination: (L-R) Alexis Coward, Kingsley Hollis of sponsors DGL Practice Manager, David Lawrence (winner) and Peter Hinton

The British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators (BSMSA) private medical secretary/PA 2015 award has been won by David Lawrence of HCA’s The Portland Hospital, London.

Gynaecologists Prof Sarah Creighton and Mr Alfred Cutner nominated him for completely transforming their private practice over the last two years.

They said the PA’s office management and administrative skills had moved them into the 21st century and brought huge benefits for them and the women they look after.

Highly commended as joint runners-up in the awards sponsored by DGL Practice Manager, and Howard de Walden (Harley Street Medical Area) were Peter Hinton of The Priory Hospital, Roehampton, and Alexis Coward of HCA’s Harley Street Clinic Diagnostic Centre.

Kathy Perkins, of the awards committee, said: ‘During our inter­views in London, we also interviewed NHS secretaries/PAs for their sector award. What came through very clearly was the difference between the people working in the private sector and those working in the NHS.

‘Put simply, working in a private practice for a medical secretary/PA – a ‘private practice manager’ – is akin to running a business with all the ramifications that entails.

‘They have to know, in addition to excellent general office management skills, financial accounting, liaising with private health insurers – or directly with the patient – detailed knowledge about the speciality of their consultant/s and the ramifications if surgery is also involved. Marketing the practice and HR management are other facets not faced by the NHS nominees’.

She described Mr Lawrence as an excellent example of how the traditional role of a medical secretary has changed over the years from being mainly a female-dominated post to that which is now seen as a highly professional position.

‘His self-confidence and attitude to his job while managing a practice which is dominated by female patients was noteworthy and helped him to gain the winning title.’

Runner-up Miss Coward recently compiled a new system for managing patients with implanted devices who require regular follow-up, many of them using remote transmissions with wireless 3G monitors from home.

Mrs Perkins said: ‘Backed up by a superb spreadsheet, this system means there is a clear pathway for all device patients to be monitored appropriately. This is so important, as many of these devices have been implanted for serious life-threatening arrhyth­mias. She shows diligence, commitment and initiative to the practice.’

Other runner-up Mr Hinton literally started from scratch, with no previous clerical or typing skills. Over the past couple of years, he transformed himself and the practice and is now running a paperless office.