In the summer of 2015 the Health Foundation was asked by the Secretary of State for Health to review indicators of the quality of care provided by general practices in England. We looked at how indicators could be developed to generate meaningful information that supports improvements to care and helps the public choose which practice might best meet their needs.

Download Indicators of quality care in general practices in England.

Within the short timeframe available for the review (June to September 2015), the Foundation consulted with a wide range of organisations and individuals with an interest in how information about general practice care quality is collated and published. We assessed the literature, analysed indicators currently used as well as the websites on which they are published, and worked with insight agency BritainThinks to understand the public’s views.

Our review focused on publication of indicators for the purposes of supporting local improvement of care, patient choice and voice, and the accountability and performance management of general practices.

Key recommendations

The review makes a series of recommendations to government, including:

  • developing a small set of indicators that show information about what matters most to the public, health care professionals and those accountable for the quality of general practice
  • consolidating the multiple existing websites currently sharing information about general practice quality, with information selected and presented to meet the differing needs of health care professionals and the public
  • developing a national strategy for improving the quality of general practice and primary care that guides indicator development, with progress assessed through the Secretary of State’s annual report
  • providing support to those working in general practice about how to understand and use information to improve patient care.

The review also strongly advises against making a composite score out of selected indicators to indicate the quality of care overall in general practice, or for particular population groups.

Additional resources

As part of our review we commissioned insight agency BritainThinks to conduct research with the public to:

  • explore if and how the general public use existing data to choose their general practice
  • explore whether there is unmet demand for additional or different data
  • explore whether the general public would want and/or use specific prompted forms of additional or different data
  • explore preferences for accessing the data (and attitudes to websites currently showing information about different practices).

Their findings are available on the BritainThinks website.

Further reading


hank beerstecher

A missing recommendation is that the information presented should be accurate.

The NHS.UK website has been displaying the patient experience ratings from the GP Patient survey incorrrectly for the last 10 months.

Now 2 months ago I had an email admitting this was incorrect, but no correction has been carried out.



Displaying the length of consultation as 73.9% (very poor) or 99% (very good) satisfaction.

Organisations should be held to account for mismanagement and misinformation.

Katie Pieroni

Thank you for what I think is, in general, a sensible and fair review. I would query the ability of NICE to develop the indicators given that NICE guidance is usually very hard to use, in large part because it is so detailed. This renders it much less effective than it might otherwise be. General Practice is overloaded with information at present. I also agree with the comment above that data is not always correct so a process to address these concerns amongst clinicians would be necessary. I also believe that most of the current data measures a proxy outcome or doesn't actually answer the desired question, and, inevitably focus on one aspect of care can mean neglect of another. In all of this patients living in the areas of greatest need tend to be least likely to monitor the quality of their services, apply pressure vocally, and access services efficiently and these are also the areas where there is likely to be a lack of GPs in the next 5-10 years.


Not only should this information be accurate but it should also be up to date. For example, information on QOF or on the Primary Care Web tool could be up to 12 months out of date by the time it gets into the public domain.

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