National Evaluation of GP Commissioning Pilots: lessons for primary care groups

Judith Smith, Emma Regen, Jonathan Shapiro, Darrin Baines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The national evaluation of general practitioner (GP) commissioning pilots was commissioned by the Department of Health in 1997 as part of its Policy Research Programme. It was conducted by the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham. AIM: To monitor the development of the 40 national pilot sites, identify the factors that inhibited or facilitated progress, and consider the implications for the implementation and development of primary care groups (PCGs). METHOD: Semi-structured face-to-face interviews with GPs, health authority (HA) managers, and pilot managers from each of the 40 pilot sites (141 interviews in total) and focus group discussions with nurses, social services officers, and community health council officers in the 40 sites. RESULTS: Stakeholders reported the key achievements of the pilots during their first six months as being improved collaboration between GPs, the establishment of organisational arrangements, and work towards managing the group prescribing budget. Obstacles for the groups included changes to government policy regarding primary care, the workload involved for clinical staff, the pilots' relationship with the local HA, and problems with information management and technology (IM&T). A more detailed analysis of the pilots' management arrangements, prescribing work, IM&T support, and stakeholder involvement points to a set of lessons for emerging PCGs. CONCLUSIONS: In their early stages of development, PCGs are likely to focus on issues of structure and process. Prescribing will be an area receiving particular attention, prefiguring some of the challenges of clinical governance in primary care. IM&T will prove to be more problematic than first assumed. The involvement of a wider range of stakeholders will be addressed by primary care groups, particularly in relation to GPs and nurses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-472
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000


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