Reducing hospital admissions by improving continuity of care in general practice

February 2017

Sally Al-Zaidy
Isaac Barker
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Key points

  • There were fewer hospital admissions – both elective and emergency – for patients who experienced higher continuity of care (ie those who saw the same GP a greater proportion of the time). Controlling for patient characteristics, we estimate that if patients saw their most frequently seen GP two more times out of every 10 consultations, this would be associated with a 6% decrease in admissions. 
  • To improve continuity for patients, general practices that are not already doing so could set prompts on their booking systems and encourage receptionists to book patients to their usual GP. Patients could also be encouraged to request their usual GP.
  • Clinical commissioning groups and NHS England Area Teams could work with general practices to support quality improvement initiatives that maintain or improve continuity of care.
  • Future national initiatives should have a well developed understanding of how and why the policy will impact on continuity in a particular context. 

This briefing summarises an analysis of data from over 230,000 anonymised patient records for people aged 62–82 years, looking specifically at admissions for conditions that might be prevented through effective treatment in primary care.

  • Continuity of care is an aspect of general practice valued by patients and GPs alike. However, it seems to be in decline in England.
  • A full version of the analysis summarised in this briefing was published in the BMJ. It looks at the link between continuity of care and hospital admissions for older patients in England.

 

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