General Practice

Family doctors and change in practice strategy since 1986

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6981.705 (Published 18 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:705
  1. Brenda Leese, research fellowa,
  2. Nick Bosanquet, professorb
  1. a Centre for Health Economics, University of York, York YO1 5DD
  2. b Health Policy Unit, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, University of London, London W2 1PG
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Leese.
  • Accepted 23 January 1995

Abstract

Objectives: To investigate the changes in practice strategy that have taken place since 1986.

Design: Comparison of practices in 1986 and 1992.

Setting: 93% of group practices (26 practices) in a single family health services authority.

Main outcome measures: Changes in staffing, premises, equipment, clinic services, and incomes between 1986 and 1992.

Results: In 1986, 28% of practices employed a nurse; in 1992, 92% did so. Between 1986 and 1992, 14 cost-rent schemes costing more than £10000 had been started. Certain practices, designated innovators, were more likely to possess specified items of equipment than other practices. Computer ownership was widespread: 77% of practices had a computer, compared with 36% in 1986. In 1992, 16 practices had a manager, compared with 10 in 1986. Clinic services provided by more than half of practices were well established services (antenatal, for example), new services for which a payment had been introduced (such as diabetes, asthma, minor surgery), or the more readily provided “new” clinic services (diet, smoking cessation). Gross income increased, but so did practice costs, especially for innovators. Practices in the more affluent area of the family health services authority were still more likely to invest in their premises and staff, and to provide more services than those in the declining area. In the more affluent area, practices had higher costs but also higher incomes.

Conclusion: Between 1986 and 1992, practices in this area invested heavily in equipment and services, but differences remain, depending on the location of the practice. Investment has increased, particularly in the more deprived part of the area, so that the inconsistency in standards has been much reduced. Practice incomes have risen, but so also have workload and costs.

Footnotes

    • Accepted 23 January 1995
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