King's Fund investigates quality of general practice

The King's Fund is launching an 18-month investigation of the quality of general practice.

The investigation will search for ways to define and measure the quality of general practice, and will include more than a dozen pieces of research on topics including access, public health and the management of long-term conditions.

It will be overseen by an expert panel including RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field and NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon.

Niall Dickson, the think tank’s chief executive, said that quality was the ‘buzzword’ of the moment. ‘We have moved from a world that tends to assume quality was there to one seeking assurance.’

But he added that the government’s focus on secondary care meant that there were still no standard measures for the quality of core services such as diagnostics, referral rates and prescribing habits.

Dr Nick Goodwin, the senior King's Fund fellow leading the research, said that the report would attempt to find scientific measures of quality practice, but would ensure they were pragmatic through discussions with the profession.

‘The intention is to develop a quality dashboard,’ with which practices can judge their own performance, he added.

The panel stressed that the research had not been motivated by any concern about the quality of existing practices, or to force practices into standard models.

The inquiry will discuss its initial findings with the profession after their release in the autumn.

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