Evaluating primary care transformation: Synthesis of findings from UK pilot project reviews

Emilie McSwiggan, Lauren Ng, Eddie Donaghy, Huayi Huang, John Gillies, David Henderson, Andrew Thompson, Harry HX Wang, Stewart Mercer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Pilot 'new models' of primary care have been funded across the UK since 2015, through various national transformation funds. Reflections and syntheses of evaluation findings provide an additional layer of insight into 'what works' in transforming primary care.

AIM: To identify good practice in policy design, implementation, and evaluation for primary care transformation.

DESIGN & SETTING: A thematic analysis of existing pilot evaluations in England, Wales, and Scotland.

METHOD: Ten studies presenting evaluations of three national pilot studies - the Vanguard programme in England, the Pacesetter programme in Wales, and the National Evaluation of New Models of Primary Care in Scotland - were thematically analysed, and findings synthesised in order to identify lessons learnt and good practice.

RESULTS: Common themes emerged across studies in all three countries at project and policy level, which can support or inhibit new models of care. At project level, these included the following: working with all stakeholders, including communities and front-line staff; providing the time, space, and support necessary for the project to succeed; agreeing on clear objectives from the outset; and support for data collection, evaluation, and shared learning. At policy level, more fundamental challenges related to the parameters for pilot projects, in particular, the typically short-term nature of funding, with an expectation of results within 2-3 years. Changing expectations about outcome measures or project guidance part-way through project implementation was also identified as a key challenge.

CONCLUSION: Primary care transformation requires coproduction and a rich, contextual understanding of local needs and complexities. However, a mismatch between policy objectives (care redesign to better meet patient needs) and policy parameters (short timeframes) is often a significant challenge to success.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice Open (BJGP Open)
Issue number2
Early online date16 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • primary health care
  • general practice
  • transformation
  • evaluation
  • new models of care
  • pilots


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