• Aimed to hep primary care clinicians increase their capacity, capability and responsibility for clinical quality improvement.
  • Nine projects were selected to take part, ranging from the management of back pain to tackling domestic violence and reducing health inequalities.
  • Ran between 2007-2011.

Assessments such as clinical audits show there are wide variations in the quality of primary care. Given that 80% of contact between the public and the health service takes place in primary care settings, it is clear many patients are receiving lower quality care than they should be entitled to expect.

In order to improve the quality of patient care, clinicians need a good understanding of existing quality levels and know how to implement and measure changes in practice. Without this, interventions designed to produce clear improvements for patients may not be realised.

Our Engaging with Quality in Primary Care programme aimed to help primary care clinicians to become engaged more fully, to increase their capacity, capability and responsibility for clinical quality improvement. We wanted to enable them to contribute to the knowledge base and potentially influence changes in health care policy.

The nine improvement projects that took part were very diverse, ranging from the management of back pain to tackling domestic violence and reducing health inequalities. Team members included GPs, specialist clinicians and other health professionals, academic researchers and voluntary groups. All clinical teams had to demonstrate how they planned to involve patients and service users.

Each clinical team received coaching to build their quality improvement and leadership skills. This helped them to set up processes to measure the current quality of clinical care in their area, and then implement activities to change clinical practice and monitor the results.

Across all the projects, the general direction of change was positive but slight. The majority of the changes reported by the project teams were improvements in patient care rather than in health outcomes. Measurable benefits for patients were achieved but the changes identified were modest and patchy.

A learning report from this programme is available.