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

Richard Baker, Janet Willars, Sarah McNicol, Mary Dixon-Woods, Lorna McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objectives 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.
Methods 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.
Results 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.
Conclusions 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-41
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Health Services Research & Policy
Volume19
Issue number1
Early online date6 Sep 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • private providers
  • primary care
  • quality safety systems

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