Our Health Partnership update: new (and additional!) benefits of GP at scale

Despite July being in the midst of the holiday season, it proved a busy month for OHP, as the partnership achieved two important milestones. The first was a confirmation that our bid for Forward View Transformation Support was successful. This is the first external financial support we have received, and it will allow us to move forward with integrated service developments. It was a very large scale bid, made in partnership with many practices that are not within OHP, so we have high expectations of what can be achieved. I will share more on this next time, as the project gets underway.

 

The second breakthrough was the approval of OHP as a newly registered CQC provider – the culmination of 18 months work. Briefly, OHP has now become a new provider, and our 38 practices have de-registered as providers and became registered locations within the partnership.

As Lesley Evans, Operations Director for OHP, commented in her blog here on the OHP website, ‘the existing (CQC) rules were not suitable as they would have required all of our partners (155 at the time when we were first exploring this) to be added to the registration, and each time one partner left or a new partner started a new registration would have had to be submitted. Clearly not sustainable from the OHP’s or CQC’s point of view’.

The CQC have been very open to discussion and have worked constructively with us to explore options and understand how best to apply the regulatory process to a large provider with a unique governance structure. Indeed, the timing was ideal as their consultation on the regulation of large scale general practice providers has just closed.

What are the benefits of this change?

  • As the registered provider, it is OHP that is responsible for quality across all of our practices, and interfacing with the regulator, allowing us to take some of the workload from our practices.
  • We have a single set of policies, and a single system of managing the documentation, which will reduce the workload in individual practices.
  • We have put in a monitoring system that allows us to identify concerns early, and support our practices to rectify them. This governance system, based around a newly appointed governance manager, is funded by the savings on CQC fees made by being a single provider.
  • Should more support be needed, we are now in a position to provide this, as indeed we have done on occasion already, to help a practice meet the standards and get back onto a stable footing.

 

The ethos of OHP has always been to support independent local practices, without taking over their day to day management. The new CQC arrangements are a real step forward, as they allow us to provide tangible support in a vital area, and in future to help bring about steady quality improvements.

In challenging times for general practice, this is exciting. One clinical governance system, instead of 38 separate approaches, means one way of doing things, one set of documentation, and one administrative process, along with, crucially, management and peer support to help when times get difficult. This is surely what ‘at scale’ general practice is all about?

I agree with Lesley that the next steps are to finalise the addition of all practice sites to our registration, and to embed the new approach. In doing so we will steadily bring about a new way of thinking about, and managing, quality in general practice.

I will let you know how we get on in my next blog – be sure to keep an eye on the site. If you have any questions, make sure to comment below.

To follow progress so far see:
Is partnership based general practice fit for the future?
GP at scale – we need to talk about sustainability

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