New research published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine concludes that patients registered to general practices owned by limited companies, including large organisations, reported worse experiences of their care than other patients. The research examined data for 7,949 general practices in England included in the General Practice Patient Survey 2013-2014.
The researchers, from Imperial College London, looked at five patient experience measures for the study: the frequency of consulting a preferred doctor; the ability to get a convenient appointment; rating of doctor communication skills; ease of contacting the practice by telephone; and the overall experience.
Dr Thomas Cowling, lead author of the research paper, said: "Across all contract and ownership types, patients generally reported positive experiences of their general practices. However, patients registered to general practices owned by limited companies reported worse experience of their care than patients registered to other practices on average."
The researchers found the sizes of the differences in experience varied from moderate to large across four outcome measures and were largest for the frequency of consulting a preferred doctor.
Dr Cowling said: "It is the responsibility of commissioners, regulators, clinicians and owners to guarantee that individual practices meet expected standards while ensuring that care quality is not systematically associated with the ownership.
"Commissioners also need to ensure that contracts offer good value for money, more so at a time when the NHS is very financially challenged."
Notes to editors
Contract and ownership type of general practices and patient experience in England: multilevel analysis of a national cross-sectional survey (DOI: 10.1177/0141076817738499) by Thomas E Cowling, Anthony A Laverty, Matthew J Harris, Hilary C Watt, Felix Greaves and Azeem Majeed will be published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine at 00:05 hrs (UK time) on Friday 3 November 2017.
The link for the paper when published will be:
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The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM) is a leading voice in the UK and internationally for medicine and healthcare. Published continuously since 1809, JRSM features scholarly comment and clinical research. JRSM is editorially independent from the Royal Society of Medicine, and its editor is Dr Kamran Abbasi.
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