Indicators of quality of care in general practices in England

An independent review for the Secretary of State for Health

October 2015

Anna Howells
Abraham Mandel
Felix Gille
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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.

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.

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.

    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).

    Download the BritainThinks research

    Further reading

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    Painting a credible picture of general practice care quality?

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