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More GP funding leads to better patient experience, study shows

More funding in general practice produces better patient experience and continuity of care, according to a new study.

Research presented at the Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) earlier this month, found that a 12% increase in funding – of £10 per patient – leads to an increase in patient satisfaction. 

GPs said it is ‘not rocket science’ that more money allows for more time with patients – and urged the Government to take note. 

Researchers looked at the impact of funding on access, continuity of care, the professionalism of GPs and overall experience.

It found that an additional £10 per patient, per year, added to the mean overall capitation funding (£83.36), would increase satisfaction about continuity of care by 3.5%, GP professionalism by 1.0% and domains of access by 0.9%.

The additional funding also increased the overall patient experience score by 1.2%, according to the study, which was led by academics at King’s College London and the University of York.

The study analysed data from NHS Digital’s General and Personal Medical Services database from 2013 to 2016, and patient experience data from NHS England’s General Practice Patient Survey over the same period, which had around 350,000 responses.

In the study abstract, researchers said: ‘It has been demonstrated across a wide range of international settings that greater investment in primary healthcare is associated with improved population health outcomes.

‘However, less is known about the influence of funding on patient experience and overall satisfaction in primary care.

‘This is the first national study to explore the relationship between funding allocated to GP practices and self-reported measures of patient experience.’

It added: ‘We found evidence that increased funding is associated with higher levels of patient experience, both overall satisfaction and for all included domains, especially continuity of care.’

Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC and BMA GP Comittee lead for contracts and regulation, said: ‘The results of this research will come as absolutely no surprise to those working in general practice nor to anyone with an ounce of common sense and one can only hope that politicians and policy makers will take note.

‘Not only does appropriate funding improve patient experience but continuity of care too and it goes without saying that better resourcing of general practice also translates into improved outcomes and reduced secondary care utilisation thereby reducing overall cost to the NHS.

‘It’s not rocket science to work out why this is the case. Increased funding leads to more quality time spent with patients, clinicians knowing their patients better, more effective patient management and satisfied patients.’

It follows the news that 96% of patients have confidence in their GP, according to an NHS England survey. 

An NHS spokesperson said: ‘Patients deserve the best experience possible on the NHS and as our recent nationwide survey showed, eight out of ten patients have a good overall experience at their GP practice.

‘General practice is the backbone of the NHS and that is why primary medical and community care resources will increase by £4.5bn by 2023-24.’

NHS England has also recently changed its flagship patient feedback tool to no longer include a question about recommending the service to friends and family.