We recently welcomed Gary Hughes to Mtech Access as a Senior Consultant in our NHS Insights & Interaction team. With extensive experience across primary care, Gary joins us following 13 years as a Practice Manager in a large Training Practice.
We sit down with Gary to learn more about how he will be utilising his knowledge of primary care and his experience in primary care education to support our work.
You’ve joined Mtech Access directly from the NHS – tell us about your previous role in the health service.
Prior to joining Mtech Access I was a Practice Manager for 13 years at a large training practice of 10 GPs, 6 nurses, a phlebotomist, a paramedic, a pharmacist, a social prescriber, and 30 non-clinicians.
A Practice Manager has a huge range of responsibilities and mine included all aspects of the business, from service provision to workforce and facilities, to education. As a training practice we always had a GP trainee with us. Unusually for a Practice Manager, I have a PGCMDE and regularly delivered education sessions for the trainees. I also created and delivered non-clinical education programmes for my practice and others.
Beyond the practice I was an executive board member for our Primary Care Network (PCN), a founding director of our Primary Care Federation and a training practice assessor. I have found that these additional roles really kept me exposed to everything that is happening in primary care and the wider NHS. To ensure I remain up to date I am still a PCN non-executive director, and also a National Faculty member of the National Association of Primary Care.
Why did you join Mtech Access?
When I joined the general Practice in 2008, you could largely decide what you wanted to do and how you wanted to do it. Those freedoms have gradually been eroded and the role has become one of a super administrator. This, along with unrealistic demands, meant that, for me, the enjoyment had ebbed away.
I knew Tom Clarke and by chance saw his post on LinkedIn advertising the role and inviting informal conversations. I quickly arranged a conversation with Tom, after which I didn’t hesitate in applying.
I was attracted by the role and the company. The role uses all my knowledge of primary care and also the broad set of skills I have as both an educator and manager in general practice to help industry clients to better understand the NHS.
The culture of the company also mirrored my own values and beliefs: putting people first, (both employees and clients), and offering a high-quality service.
What have you got involved with in your first few weeks at Mtech Access?
I’ve had a great variety of projects; I’m creating a primary care education programme tailored for our Pharmaceutical and Medtech clients, and also the Mtech Access team. I’m also looking at primary care data and how we can use this to help our clients.
I’ve worked with clients in ‘strategy huddles’ and ‘one step ahead’ sessions, which has been a great chance to share my own primary care insights. I’ve also worked with a PCN supporting them in their development.
Whilst it’s been very hands on, I’ve also had a comprehensive induction programme covering everything from the wide range of services offered by Mtech Access to ABPI training.
A key part of your role will be to help bridge the gap between industry and the NHS, and primary care in particular. What three things do you think would most surprise our clients in Pharmaceutical and Medtech companies about primary care?
First, how integral the wider team are to general practice… both clinical and non-clinical teams do so much. It’s not all about the GP; the nursing team and now wider multi-disciplinary team do so much. Even the non-clinical teams have a lot of patient contact, and do so much to make sure patients receive the care they need.
Second, is how much NHS England now dictate what primary care can do… so much is decided at the top. More and more is being asked of general practice and more and more is being regulated or dictated.
Lastly, how difficult it is to recruit clinical staff. It is not unusual to advertise for a clinical role and get no applicants and it can take several rounds of recruiting to fill a position.
What has most surprised you about Mtech Access, since joining?
All the things I was told about the company, and the expectations I had, have come true. I’ve had support, challenge, variety, and been allowed to get stuck in. So far, it really has been a fantastic experience; rewarding and refreshing.
When you are not at work, what do you like to do?
Since completing my MBA I’ve always been interested in all things leadership, business and management. I’m keen to support others in primary care leadership roles and I have written over 140 short blogs on this area on LinkedIn. I turned 52 of these into a self-published book entitled ‘Leadership in Practice’, and plan to publish a second volume. I also host a podcast of the same name. I really enjoy Mtech Access’s own podcast and webinars and think Tom Clarke does a fantastic job hosting them; there are some great and really knowledgeable guests.
Beyond these, it’s time with family, cooking, being a school governor and watching my hometown football team, when allowed!