Continuity of Care

Continuity of care can be defined as the extent to which a person experiences an ongoing relationship with a clinical team or member of a clinical team and the coordinated clinical care that progresses smoothly as the patient moves between different parts of the health service. 

It can consist of relational continuity – seeing the same people or team, management continuity – management and coordination of care and informational continuity – continuity of patient records and information. 

Continuity of care is a critical element of general practice, particularly, continuity of the personal relationship between patients and their general practitioner. Many patients are looking to general practice as the keepers of their story, the clinician or team of clinicians that know them and their circumstances.

Support Partnership with the Health Foundation 

In 2019, the Health Foundation launched a new funding programme to help to improve patient care and outcomes by exploring the potential to increase continuity of care within general practice. 

This programme is inspired by a study published in August 2018, conducted by the Health Foundation team. This study concluded that ‘strategies that improve the continuity of care in general practice may reduce secondary care costs, particularly for the heaviest users of healthcare […] and that promoting continuity might also improve the experience of patients and those working in general practice.1

Five projects were awarded up to £250,000 to carry out targeted quality improvement work over 18-24 months, to increase continuity in their practices. 

The Health Foundation and RCGP understand the pressures faced by professionals working in general practice and wanted to know whether an increased focus on continuity of care could help bring benefits to both staff and patients. 

RCGP’s role

As a support partner, RCGP will build relationships and facilitate peer support for the grantee sites through an online network and in-person workshops and site visits. We will also capture, develop and share best practice and learning with a wider community of practice interested in continuity of care in general practice. The RCGP will engage the community through an online platform and webinars.

The team will also create links to existing projects and communities within the RCGP, the Health Foundation, other professional bodies and more broadly.


To access our resources on continuity of care, please click here.


  1. Barker. I; Steventon A.; Deeny. S 2017 ‘Association between continuity of care in general practice and hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions: cross sectional study of routinely collected, person level data’, BMJ 356:j84



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