From education to employment


The body for GP practice managers and all non-clinical professionals across the UK health and social care management industry The Practice Managers Association (PMA) is using specialist software to improve quality assurance and its Ofsted grade.

The PMA, which has 50,000 members and employs a team of 10 tutors, provides an extensive portfolio of workshops, learning opportunities and formal education programmes to people in variety of roles who help to manage and update patient records, organise surgical schedules, and generally ensure the efficient running of healthcare centres and hospitals. This includes support for hundreds of learners throughout the scope of their apprenticeship-learning programme.

In an ongoing commitment to improving its Ofsted grade, the company invested in the Mesma software platform in 2021 to raise critical quality assurance processes. Mesma helps PMA to ensure that learners benefit from the best possible experience, including those on apprenticeship programmes.

Mesma supports PMA in its continued drive to identify and diagnose gaps in quality performance across its operations and admin team. In turn, this is centralising the management of important functions alongside more effective monitoring and feedback on progress against improvement plans.

Among the core benefits of Mesma, PMA is finding that personal ownership of the quality assurance process is significantly improved across its small team. Access to the system enables people to take ownership of the critical elements of quality assurance. This in turn produces more effective self-assessment that identifies and helps to prioritise opportunities to make improvements with a clear sight over the requirements of core stakeholders – such as Ofsted.

Target resources

Mesma technology is used by a range of education and employment support providers and regulatory and accreditation bodies to simplify complex processes, ensuring management information is used to target resources in the areas that have the most impact on the quality of learner and customer experience and outcomes.

Sarah Burrows, head of education at PMA, said Mesma is proved ‘pivotal’ in helping the PMA to secure a ‘Good’ Ofsted following an inspection in 2022 and is supporting moves towards wider transparency and accountability, while putting individual quality improvement planning into sharper focus.

She said: “Our focus is to ensure learners are on the right programme and that they benefit from a fantastic training experience from start to finish – in short, that they are equipped and ready to pursue their careers as occupationally competent practitioners. We want the learners to be recruited to the sector, retained and able to progress in their careers. Concentrating on the learner and focussing on quality are paramount to success. By doing these two things well and not straying from the path that we have knowledge and expertise in, we will continue to improve and be successful.

“Mesma is at the centre of our processes and procedures around quality improvement. Everything is centralised on an intuitive, accessible platform and disseminates information in a way that is easy-to-understand and can be quickly acted upon by team members.”

Sarah Burrows added that Mesma has been really important in relation to PMA’s Ofsted grade – the technology helped them to be ready at inspection with the requisite information available to inspectors at the press of a button. She is also far more confident about the merits of using it as an online platform.

“We have been able to focus on structuring our evidence ready for the Ofsted inspection,” she added. “We knew that by using Mesma, we had covered every single element of the education inspection framework. We were even able to use the software to rate ourselves as ‘Good’ and identify those areas where further improvements could be made to secure a possible ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted grade. We are now working on closing those small gaps identified at and look forward to going a step further at our next inspection with the PMAs Vision being Onwards to Outstanding

Confidence boost

Mesma is saving considerable time because everything needed for quality improvement is now accessible in the right place, said Sarah Burrows. “Mesma links performance to operational quality. Resources are more effectively deployed while additional analysis and reviews saves time, ensuring we have far more informed, intelligent decision-making.”

Having more structured quality improvement measures in place helps the team at PMA to target learning resources more efficiently, while improved data contributes to the delivery of training provision and the measurement of impact on learners in the process.

“The volume of learners obtaining distinctions has increased dramatically because we’ve now got a far better baseline against which we can measure ourselves. This secures improvements and is helping us to improve learner outcomes” she added. “We are building towards Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ and I think Mesma, after the last inspection, gives us a lot of confidence and clearer insight. We know what we need to focus on and we feel really confident about being able to achieve it.”

Looking to the future, she sees Mesma’s role at PMA expanding as the company drives forward on its quality improvement journey. “Technology is critical to helping organisations like us to achieve on-going success and raise standards. So, as a training provider, it’s important that we adapt to changes, and tools like Mesma will help us stay ahead and be even better prepared for future Ofsted inspections and other quality assurance tests that training providers must abide by,” she said.

Mesma is proving to be a shrewd investment for PMA, securing demonstrable improvements in quality and transforming the measurement of progress into a more manageable, visible daily process.

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