Relational continuity for general practice patients with new and changing symptoms

Valentine Health Partnership

  • Run by Valentine Health Partnership, Woolwich.
  • Aiming to investigate whether offering a period of relational continuity with a named GP results in benefits in terms of improved experience of care and better outcomes for patients.
  • Will use data analysis to identify healthy patients with new or changing symptoms who may benefit from continuity, and will implement operational systems that support people to achieve continuity and assess its impact.
  • Will run from January 2019 to June 2020.

GPs regularly see patients who have consulted with multiple doctors in the previous weeks or months for a cluster of related symptoms, without any GP having overall responsibility for their care. This could potentially delay diagnosis and treatment, and result in inappropriate or duplicated use of other services.

This ‘proof of concept’ project run by Valentine Health Partnership will undertake data analysis to identify patients with changing patterns of consultations and clinical problems who may benefit from continuity. Systems will then be developed to allocate suitable patients to named GPs and to provide reliable team-based support to ensure continuity of information and management when the named GP is unavailable.

The project will focus on mainly healthy patients with new or changing symptoms. It will investigate the impact on time to diagnosis and use of wider services of offering mainly healthy adults with new symptoms a period of continuity with a named GP.

The project also aims to improve patient awareness about continuity, to train clinicians to promote continuity, and to support patients to achieve it. The project team will assess the impact of these initiatives on patient and staff satisfaction.

Data analytic methods developed during the project could potentially be embedded into electronic patient records to generate automated alerts about patients who may benefit from continuity. 

If successful, the project will change clinician working practices (supported by ongoing data analysis) in a way that will not cost more, but will generate greater patient and staff satisfaction, better clinical outcomes and lower use of NHS resources.

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