Evaluation of the Increasing Continuity of Care in General Practice Programme
In 2019, the Health Foundation launched a new funding programme to help to improve patient care and outcomes by exploring the potential to increase continuity of care within general practice.
Continuity of care can be defined as the extent to which a person experiences an ongoing relationship with a clinical team and the coordinated clinical care that progresses smoothly as the patient moves between different parts of the health service. It can consist of relational continuity – seeing the same people or team, management continuity – management and coordination of care, and informational continuity – continuity of patient records and information. Continuity of care is a critical element of general practice, particularly, continuity of the personal relationship between patients and their general practitioner.
In 2019, the Health Foundation launched a new funding programme to help to improve patient care and outcomes by exploring the potential to increase continuity of care within general practice. The programme was inspired by a study conducted by the Health Foundation team, published in 2018, which concluded that ‘strategies that improve the continuity of care in general practice may reduce secondary care costs, particularly for the heaviest users of healthcare and that promoting continuity might also improve the experience of patients and those working in general practice.
An evaluation was commissioned to evaluate the learning generated by five large-scale GP practices and federations who were awarded grants of up to £250,000 over 12-24 months to carry out targeted quality improvement work to increase continuity in their practices. The evaluation will examine the pressures faced by professionals working in general practice, capture learning from the five sites and determine whether an increased focus on continuity of care can help bring benefits to both staff and patients. The evaluation is conducted by a partnership of Mott Macdonald and the Improvement Analytics Unit, supported by Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) with academic guidance from Professor Damian Hodgson (University of Sheffield), Professor Ruth Boaden and Dr Patrick Burch (University of Manchester).
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