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Traditional GP services perform better than alternative providers


30 April 2015

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Alternative providers of primary care in the NHS, including private sector companies, do not perform as well as traditional GP practices a study suggests.

Alternative providers of primary care in the NHS, including private sector companies, do not perform as well as traditional GP practices a study suggests.

Commissioned providers on Alternative Provider of Medical Services (APMS) contracts performed worse than traditional GP practices on 15 out of 17 indicators after adjusting for the characteristics of the practices and the populations they serve. They had worse results for patients’ diabetes control, higher hospital admission rates for chronic conditions, and lower overall patient satisfaction.

The study looked at all 8,300 GP practices in England and used a range of performance indicators from the Health and Social Care Information Centre and the national GP Patient Survey. These included access measures such as how easily patients can get appointments, clinical measures such as how well they manage patients’ blood pressure, and efficiency measures.


Lead author Dr Christopher Millett, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College, said: “This study provides data to inform the debate about the growing role of the private sector in the NHS.

“The lesson is that increasing diversity does not necessarily lead to better quality. Regulators should ensure that new providers of NHS services are performing to adequate standards and at least as well as traditional providers.”

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