Increasing Continuity of Care in General Practice A programme to fund targeted quality improvement work to increase continuity in GP practices

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This programme is now closed for expressions of interest.

  • Inspired by 2018 Health Foundation research which demonstrated that patients with ambulatory care sensitive conditions who see the same GP a greater proportion of the time have fewer unplanned hospital admissions. 
  • The programme explored the potential for general practice to increase continuity of care for its patients and improve their care. 
  • Supported five projects for up to two and a half years between January 2019 and summer 2021.

About the programme

In 2019 we awarded five large-scale GP practices and federations grants of up to £250,000 over 18-24 months to carry out targeted quality improvement work to increase continuity in their practices. Following the COVID-19 pandemic we paused the programme for 6 months before restarting in late 2020, with the majority of the projects now finishing in summer 2021. One of the projects, Valentine Health Partnership, completed their project in July 2020. Their project focused on relational continuity for patients with changing symptoms.  

We were interested in working with practices who have a commitment to increasing levels of continuity, experience of delivering quality improvement projects and a culture of evaluation and learning within their organisation. The programme was developed and delivered with the advice and support of the Royal College of General Practitioners. 

The five GP practices and federations vary in scale, from a single practice in Woolwich, London to a project with over 23 practices around Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The methods and ideas also vary between the sites, but are based on the principle of using quality improvement methods and measurement to increase the levels of continuity of care experienced in their practices. 

In order to understand the impact and methods used by the projects, the Health Foundation commissioned two evaluations of this programme: a mixed methods evaluation and a quantitative evaluation. Both of these evaluations are due to report in late 2021, and we will share a summary of their findings on this page when they are available. 

‘Continuity of care is a critical element of general practice, in particular continuity of the personal relationship between patients and their general practitioner. The RCGP strongly supports this programme which will give us new insights into how best to deliver continuity in an increasingly challenging environment.’ 
Professor Martin Marshall, Vice-Chair External Affairs, Royal College of General Practitioners.

Contact details

If you have any questions or would like to learn more please email the Continuity of Care programme team at the Health Foundation.

Learning and outputs 

Continuity of care toolkit

As part of the programme, Morecambe Bay Primary Care Collaborative and One Care CIC, collaborated to produce the Continuity of Care Toolkit - an in-depth, practical guide to improving continuity, drawing on quality improvement methods and approaches, and real world examples. The toolkit is a consolidation of learning and resources from the two projects, and is designed to guide practices through their continuity improvement journey. This includes supporting patient and staff engagement and providing tools to measure continuity as well as the impact and change of improvement interventions.  

The toolkit is hosted by the Royal College of General Practitioners. 

Continuity of care webinars

You can hear directly from the project sites that participated in this programme as part of a webinar series hosted by the Royal College of General Practitioners. On the webinars the projects teams shared the evidence base for continuity, key tips for implementation, the vital role of measurement, and what the project sites have learnt about increasing continuity over the last two and half years. 

Evaluation outputs

We will be sharing a summary of the evaluation results in late 2021. 

Further reading

Journal article

Invitation to tender

ITT: Support partner for the Continuity of Care in General Practice programme

Invitation to tender

We are seeking a supplier to work with us to support learning and dissemination within the...

Relational continuity for general practice patients with new and changing symptoms

Improvement project

This project used data analysis to identify patients with new or changing symptoms who may benefit from continuity, and implemented operational systems that supported people to achieve continuity.

How well do I know and trust my doctor?

Improvement project

Supported 23 GP practices to improve their continuity of care, leading to more personalised care for patients and improved job satisfaction for staff.

Continuity by design

Improvement project

This project aims to help patients to develop a therapeutic relationship with their preferred clinician by introducing micro-teams and implementing systems that match clinical capacity to demand.

Improving continuity of care for patients in Morecambe Bay

Improvement project

Involved identifying, testing and implementing comprehensive tools to help GP practices improve and measure continuity of care.

Continuity counts

Improvement project

Introduced interventions including seminars in each practice for GPs, staff and patients, continuity measurement methods, patient surveys and promotional materials to help increase commitment to conti...

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