Are single-handed GP practices safe?

You may have felt a tremble in the force over earlier this month.   NHS England got its revenge or  perhaps better described as a “premptive cringe”, in early ahead of a BMA strike on the Director of Primary Care at NHS England Dr Arvind Madan.   I am no expert but the BMA (the Doctors Trade Union) is not keen on the closure of small GP practices,  I am sure they will comment below if they’re concerned about my lack of understanding here.

But here is some evidence, there’s not much of it, but it’s pretty clear; if you’re a patient stay away from small GP practices. 

Elaine Kelly and George Stoye published Does GP Practice Size Matter?
GP Practice Size and the Quality of Primary Care in Nov 2014. You can read it for yourself.

Here are a few bullets from the executive summary:

  • Single-handed practices have the lowest average (mean) QOF scores
  • For ACS admissions, there is some evidence that smaller practices perform
    worse, on average, than larger practices and are more likely to be among the worst performing.
  • Practices with three or fewer FTE GPs are less likely to refer their patients for secondary care than larger practices. Single-handed practices are also less likely than larger practices to refer patients for treatment by independent sector providers (ISPs)

So what should you do as a patient, well you can make your own mind up?  I look for the largest practice with the lots of doctors and nurses.

It’s a shame that NHS England felt it could not stand up for patients and those GPs that provide better care.  I’m sure their action is counter to the NHS Constitution Principles 3 and 6, but we don’t hear much of that these days.

 

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