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Enhancing patient experience

Research conducted in the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre (NPCRDC) at The University of Manchester between 2000 and 2011 means all NHS patients can now make fully informed choices about their local GP services.

Initial research raised the profile of patient experience and linked it to quality improvement in the care and services patients received from their GPs.

This resulted in nationwide activities in primary care that have advanced and enhanced the quality of care and services provided for patients in primary care settings.

The team of researchers, which included Professors Pete Bower and Stephen Campbell and Dr David Reeves, ensured that patients were at the heart of quality improvement activities. They:

  • investigated how patients make judgments about quality of care they receive, such as easy access to their GP and effectiveness of care;
  • designed reliable measures to assess patient experience of care. This led to the development of the General Practice Patient Survey (GPPS), which has been completed by millions of patients. Their views have been assessed and analysed on a large scale over a sustained period of time. This data is now accessible online to all NHS patients.

The team's earlier patient experience measure (GPAQ) was used by the Department of Health and was linked to the payment of GPs in the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).

GPs were incentivised to conduct surveys on their practice population and respond to the surveys with appropriate quality improvement activities. Between 2004 and 2009, over 90% of GP practices undertook these surveys.

By 2009, £68 million worth of GPs' salaries were linked to patient reports of their ability to gain high quality and ready access to care.

"GPs were incentivised to conduct surveys on their practice population and respond to the surveys with appropriate quality improvement activities. Between 2004 and 2009, over 90% of GP practices undertook these surveys."

Peter Bower / Professor of Primary Care Research