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Primary care quality and safety systems in the English National Health Service: a case study of a new type of primary care provider

Primary care quality and safety systems in the English National Health Service: a case study of a new type of primary care provider

Journal of Health Services Research and Policy 19(1): 34-41

Although the predominant model of general practice in the UK National Health Service (NHS) remains the small partnership owned and run by general practitioners (GPs), new types of provider are emerging. We sought to characterize the quality and safety systems and processes used in one large, privately owned company providing primary care through a chain of over 50 general practices in England. Senior staff with responsibility for policy on quality and safety were interviewed. We also undertook ethnographic observation in non-clinical areas and interviews with staff in three practices. A small senior executive team set policy and strategy on quality and safety, including a systematic incident reporting and investigation system and processes for disseminating learning with a strong emphasis on customer focus. Standardization of systems was possible because of the large number of practices. Policies appeared generally well implemented at practice level. However, there was some evidence of high staff turnover, particularly of GPs. This caused problems for continuity of care and challenges in inducting new GPs in the company's systems and procedures. A model of primary care delivery based on a corporate chain may be useful in standardizing policies and procedures, facilitating implementation of systems, and relieving clinical staff of administrative duties. However, the model also poses some risks, including those relating to stability. Provider forms that retain the long term, personal commitment of staff to their practices, such as federations or networks, should also be investigated; they may offer the benefits of a corporate chain combined with the greater continuity and stability of the more traditional general practice.

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Accession: 055175521

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 24013553

DOI: 10.1177/1355819613500664

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