About Collaborative General Practice

Clinical and non-clinical professionals in primary care are increasingly working together in new, different and innovative ways. Pharmacists, physiotherapists, social prescribers and paramedics are just some of the roles where much more integrated working will be seen over the next few years.

Collaborative General Practice provides an opportunity to support this newer way of working within General Practice, primary care and across the wider health, social care and voluntary sector teams working to improve patient care. 

Supporting primary care teams to build relationships, understand the challenges and successes and share learning will be crucial as we move to a more community-based model of care. Using a person-centred approach to make sure care is holistic whilst also being supported by population health data will be central to improving outcomes for patients and carers.

Collaborative General Practice aims to support GPs and other professionals navigate through the development of how we work together across practices, communities and levels of care including primary, secondary and tertiary care. Making sure that the need for evaluation and creating standards (e.g. definitions, core competencies, qualitative experiences) is understood and appreciated. 

Collaborative General Practice, whether as Primary Care Networks, Clusters, Federations, Super-Partnerships, Quality Clusters or other collaborative organisations, offers an opportunity for connection, inclusivity, inspiration and creativity in the development of a connected approach to improving the lives and journeys of patients, colleagues and communities. 

Progressing in a rapidly changing UK landscape

Throughout the country a more collaborative approach to ways of working across primary care is being introduced quickly and place-based teams are being asked to be respond and make significant changes over a short period of time. Collaboration within multidisciplinary teams and across different organisations can feel challenging and it is helpful to have a framework for delivering high-quality primary care. 

Ten key building blocks of high-quality primary care

Collaborative General Practice aims to support the development of a coordinated and joined up approach to care for patients by focusing on the ten key building blocks of high-quality primary care:

  1. Leadership and vision (goals and objectives)
  2. Data infrastructure and utilisation
  3. Matching resources to the population need and continual review process
  4. Team based care model 
  5. Person centred care
  6. Population health management
  7. Continuity of care
  8. Flexibility of care provision
  9. Network of comprehensive care 
  10. Creating the future of care

Collaborative working is based upon groups of people working together in a network. The strength of this network relies on the connections and relationships across individuals and teams and this forms the foundations of collaborative working. These foundations need to be supported by strong to enable a sustainable healthcare system that meets people’s needs.

To support your iterative development, consider the key seven pillars of your network

N - Need

  • What is it that we need?
  • How can you be creative in your thinking?
  • How can you use local resources supported by digital technology?
  • How can you make a tangible and measurable difference?
  • What local and available data will you use to inform and drive your projects?
  • Do you need business intelligence or data analysis support?
  • How will you measure and demonstrate improvement ?
  • How will you measure network health outcomes and not just outputs?
  • What quality improvement tools would be helpful ?
  • What are you going to do together that is just too difficult to do by yourself?

More information: 

Public Health England, Population data

E - Enjoyment

  • Have fun – bring enjoyment, enthusiasm and energy to the table .
  • Does everyone feel included and motivated?
  • Don’t set yourself up to fail - do something that’s actually possible.
  • Be pragmatic.
  • Celebrate successes.
  • Reflect on the reasons something might not have worked

Watch: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

T - Talent Management

  • Talent Management embraces leadership.
  • Anyone can be a leader you just need to want to make a change.
  • Harness talent in your networks – think of the whole team and empower leadership by all.
  • Play to people’s strengths.
  • Create an environment where everyone can thrive.
  • Have the courage to reflect on successes and challenge.
  • Work on the culture of sharing.

W - Why

  • Start with “Why?”
  • What are the reasons for coming together to work collaboratively?
  • What is your shared purpose and vision?
  • Spend time developing this shared purpose and vision before you do anything else.
  • Develop a collective why to generate a collective momentum.
  • Seek dissent.
  • Highlight what you are not trying to do from the start.

More information: 

Watch: Simon Sinek, Know your WHY 

Read: Becky Malby, The purpose matters


O - Organisational Development

  • Form will follow function.
  • Consider what you are doing and why first and then organise your teams around this.
  • Then what organisational form do you need?
  • Who is going to host your network – is their trust and accountability built in?
  • What does clinical leadership in your network look like?
  • How might credibility, knowledge and trust play a part in effective leadership?
  • How might you select and elect leaders?
  • What legalities and governance do you need to navigate?
  • What is the role of at scale providers, for example, federations in supporting this work?
  • Develop a network maturity matrix.

R - Relationships

  • Do not underestimate the importance of relationships.
  • Spend time getting to know the WHOLE team.
  • Eat together.
  • Consider using team huddles.
  • Build trust.
  • Take time to listen.
  • Be genuinely curious in order to build meaningful relationships.
  • Transformation is all about relations.

Watch: Kings Fund, Collaboration and compassionate leadership 


K - Knowledge

  • Empower yourself with knowledge.
  • Find facts and not myths.
  • Ask questions and seek out answers for yourself first-hand

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