A Unique partnership – supporting and improving general practice, the Greater Manchester way

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04 October 2019

Dr Joanna Bircher, GP and Clinical Director of Greater Manchester GP Excellence Programme

The Greater Manchester GP Excellence Programme is an exciting initiative - for the first time, the Royal College of General Practitioners has linked up with a local health partner to run an area-based quality improvement programme focusing on the specific needs of the area.

Members of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP) primary care team work directly with the RCGP team on the programme, with leadership and delivery being shared. The direction of the programme is guided by GP practices, local medical committees, federations and clinical commissioning groups.

Tailored support to meet local needs

The goal for the programme is to bring quality improvement initiatives together under a common umbrella programme to better understand the gaps. The aim is to use our understanding of these gaps to influence local partners to provide tailored support to meet local needs.

Sharing what the programme offers is a major challenge. Getting a balance between enough communication so that everyone knows what they can get out of the programme, and too many emails, is difficult. So, the programme has a centralised team, a strong GP Excellence brand and access to a web portal, where key information and resources are held.

Training and skill development opportunities are advertised via a newsletter, the programme’s website and social media channels. One of the ‘jewels in the crown’ of the programme is that it can work around the individual needs of a practice. They can contact the programme via the web portal or by email to have a conversation with a member of the team about their specific issues so that a bespoke plan can be made for them.

Building the skills of the general practice community to tackle challenges in the future

One of the consistent themes of the programme is the development of a culture of continuous quality improvement. Practices are encouraged to take a more systematic approach to working out what they need to improve and then test out small changes to see what makes the most difference. This approach is designed to build the skills in our general practice community to tackle whatever challenges face us in the future.

GPs supported by the programme feel they have someone looking out for them, helping them to access what they require to deliver great care to patients. Everyone working within a GP environment in Greater Manchester can access the programme to develop their individual skills, and for support to help solve some of the ‘wicked’ problems in general practice such as access, patient experience and workload.

All this leads to happy patients and staff

The uptake on our offers of leadership and management training for both GPs and practice managers has been huge. This demonstrates how seriously they take their role, and how keen they are to lead the changes they want to see on the front line.           

Most people’s main contact with the NHS is through their GP Practice. If we support general practice to make it a great place to work, a better patient experience follows, leading to happy staff and happy patients.

The RCGP’s QI Ready tool offers an array of QI resources, guidance and case studies of QI projects which have been undertaken by other practices. RCGP recently launched a webinar which provides an overview of QI and how you can start your quality improvement journey. The webinar can be accessed on QI Ready.  

To support the College’s quality improvement programme of work, we are recruiting QI Regional Champions on a voluntary basis to raise awareness and improve understanding of quality improvement in primary care. If you would be interested in finding out more about the role or to join the network, please get in touch with the team at QualityImprovement@rcgp.org.uk

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