Quality in Primary Care Open Access

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Engaging with clinical commissioning: the attitudes of general practitioners in East Lancashire

Ian Ashman, Steve Willcocks

Background Clinical commissioning is the centrepiece of government health reforms. Engagement with the reforms is important if they are to bring about improvements in the quality of healthcare. This is important in any healthcare system, not just the UK National Health Service (NHS). This study draws on data from a specially commissioned survey, exploring the extent to which general practitioners (GPs) in East Lancashire are engaged with clinical commissioning. Aim The aim of this study was to assess levels of engagement with clinical commissioning using a Clinical Commissioning Engagement Scale (CCES). Methods A six-point Likert scale CCES was distributed to all GPs within the boundary of East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The GPs are distributed across five localities that vary in terms of geography, demography and previous commissioning experience. The CCES aimed to capture comparative levels of engagement across twelve items, three for each of four dimensions of engagement: (1) personal attitude, (2) perceived capacity, (3) perceived capability and (4) opportunity. Eighty-five returns were received, representing a response rate of 35.3%. A full analysis of the data was conducted using SPSS v. 19. Results The results demonstrate concern for capacity and capability across the localities, where mean scores are universally well below the midpoint of the scale. However, attitude and opportunity were relatively positive indicators with mean scores above midpoint for all localities. Conclusion The findings highlight the potential challenges for CCGs in engaging GPs and in particular responding to perceived problems of capability and capacity. Further research is required to shed light on whether East Lancashire is typical of other CCGs.