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Continuity of care “should be the priority”

4 November 2010

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More than half (57%) of GPs and practice-based professionals surveyed by think tank The King’s Fund said that providing continuity of care should be the main priority for improving the quality of general practice in England.

But just one in five thought access to care should be prioritised, despite its strong focus in recent debate on health reform.

The findings are consistent with recent research for The King’s Fund that showed patients would generally opt for better continuity of care over speed of access when given a choice.

Managing long-term conditions was identified as the second place by 40% of practice professionals, with health prevention a priority for 28% and end-of-life care for 25%.

The survey reflected support for the QOF, with just over half believing this to be the most effective approach to quality improvement.

However, 57% of respondents thought that patient surveys are the least effective approach to quality improvement.

Nick Goodwin, senior fellow at The King’s Fund and director of the GP Inquiry, said: “While access to GP services is clearly important and has been the focus of recent NHS reforms, GPs and patients alike are telling us that continuity of care should be a significant aspect in delivering quality improvements in general practice.

“The findings also raise some important questions about how best to drive quality improvement. Are pay-for-performance measures really a more important tool for quality improvement than other quality improvement initiatives such as patient feedback or practice accreditation?

“Does this suggest that GPs are less willing to embrace greater transparency to the public and their peers in the quality of care they provide?”

The King’s Fund