Commenting on the Secretary of State's 'New Deal' for general practice, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said:
We would urge some caution in the use of financial incentives to stimulate change. These can be blunt instruments, which can distort priorities and detract from patient care.
Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust
"There is much to welcome in today's announcement. For some time now we have been highlighting the need for GPs to embrace reform in order to overcome a looming staffing crunch, strained finances and growing patient need.
“It is good to see the Secretary of State acknowledge this through his plans to improve GP training, improve recruitment, and boost the capacity of staff across primary care, including pharmacists and practice nurses. However, we would urge some caution in the use of financial incentives to stimulate change. These can be blunt instruments, which can distort priorities and detract from patient care.
“Regarding seven-day services, the reality is that redesigning general practice is about much more than just changing opening hours. Indeed this may be least of the ways in which it needs to reform. There are already examples of practices adopting more significant changes to the services they offer patients, embracing new technology or working across disciplines. The real question is how to spread this good practice further - something we’re exploring with our network of large-scale GP organisations.
"We have previously called for better data to be available to help us understand the nature of the pressures on general practice and the quality of care GPs provide. This is essential to improve the accountability of the service. Whilst the focus on quality metrics is positive, we are still missing basic data on numbers of patients' appointments with GPs. Measuring outcomes without understanding basic activity volumes will only tell us part of the story.”
Notes to editors
- Earlier this week, the Nuffield Trust published Transforming general practice: what are the levers for change?, a briefing looking at how policymakers can help change general practice. The briefing argued that financial rewards and incentives risk being overused in the NHS and that a more enabling approach to change is needed.
- The Nuffield Trust is currently undertaking a two-year research programme looking at how large scale GP and primary care organisations are developing. As part of this work, the Nuffield Trust has established a general practice learning network.