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Protected learning time in general practice: a questionnaire study of practice managers' perceptions of their role

Introduction Government recommendations have encouraged the primary care team to learn together in order to improve both teamworking and the quality of care for patients. Protected learning time (PLT) has become an established method of learningfor many primary care teams. PLT offers teams the potential of learning together by providing time that is protected from service delivery. Practice managers are often tasked with the organisation of practice-based PLT events for the primary care team.Aims The aim of this research was to elicit the perceptions of practice managers about their role in this task.Methods A 16-statement questionnaire was devised and emailed to the practice managers of 56 general medical practices that take part in PLT within NHS Ayrshire and Arran.Results A response rate of 90% was achieved. The results showed that managers considered that it was their role to plan and prepare practice-based events. However, only 11% of managers felt it was their responsibility to arrange educational events that included the attached team of health visitors and district nurses. They also reported that the attached team only attended a minority of  practice-based PLT events.Conclusion Practice managers need more support fromwithin the team when planning and preparing PLT, and need help to overcome the exisiting barriers that prevent learning together with the attached team. Primary care teams and primary care organisations who fund and commission PLT need to work differently if they are to improve practicebased PLT.


David Cunningham , Carole Stoddart , Diane Kelly

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