UK Government

Department of Health: Practice based commissioning making an impact

Press Release   •   Dec 09, 2009 11:17 GMT

GPs believe Practice Based Commissioning is improving its impact on the patient experience and their local community by bringing care closer to patients, according to a newly revised survey published today.

The quarterly Practice Based Commissioning (PBC) GP survey has been updated to ask more accurate questions directly to commissioners themselves, rather than a random sample of GP practices. This better measures the impact of PBC and the level of support Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) give to practice-based commissioners in helping improve the services for local populations.

From data collected between October to December 2009, 80% of practice-based commissioners believe that their work investing in better quality, better value, and better-designed health services, is showing some impact to their patients to bring about improvements in local health. 80% of practice-based commissioners consider that PBC has had some impact in bringing care closer to home, and 77% said their efforts have improved the patient experience to some degree.

Other key findings show that:

  • 77% say their actions have made care more cost effective;
  • 80% of practices have agreed a commissioning plan with their PCT, compared to the previous survey reporting 64% of practices from July to September 09;
  • 81% have submitted business cases for service re-design to their PCT this financial year – of these 80% have had at least some of these approved, and 66% have had at least some implemented;
  • 82% of respondents rate their relationship with the PCT as good, compared with 60% of practices in the previous quarter’s survey;
  • 84% of PBC groups & independent practices have received an indicative budget, compared with 61% of practices in the July to September 09 survey; and
  • 57% rate the quality of management support as good, compared with 50% of practices rating it good in the previous quarter’s survey.

Health Minister Mike O’Brien said:

“By speaking to named commissioners directly, we’re able to see what impact Practice Based Commissioning is having in the eyes of those who are the driving force for innovation and improvements in quality of care in their community.

“The new survey helps create a more accurate and robust picture of PBC both locally and nationally, highlighting areas which are doing an impressive job in making an impact to their patients, and identifying areas where this best practice needs to be spread to.

“Today’s results show that an ever growing number of practices are commissioning services to ensure they are continuously reviewing the needs of their patients and investing in better quality, better value, and better-designed health services.“

The revised survey methodology and question set has been developed together with the ten Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs), a number of PCTs and commissioners themselves to reflect a more indicative view of what practice-based commissioners actually think. The survey been running in its previous format for two years since September 2007.

The results from the survey will feed directly into the World Class Commissioning assurance process and help PCTs demonstrate how commissioning good quality, cost-effective services are helping provide their populations with what they need.

Notes to editors

  • Results from the new and revised Practice Based Commissioning (PBC) GP survey can be found at :
  • The PBC vision published in March 2009 can be found at:
  • All practice based commissioners are entitled to:
    • management and financial information;
    • a management and financial support package;
    • swift budget-setting and decision-making from Primary Care Trusts, and;
    • local incentive schemes agreed with every Primary Care Trust that promote better health, better care and better value in specific areas.
  • PCTs are held to account for the strength of their clinical involvement through the world class commissioning assurance system. PCTs will not be able to reach a level 2 rating unless the above PBC entitlements are delivered.
  • Where possible, data from the previous survey (July to September 2009) is included for illustration and context, however it should be noted that the fundamental change in methodology cautions against making direct comparisons.
  • For more information contact the Department of Health Press Office on: 0207 210 5221.
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