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Does workforce explain the relationship between funding and patient experience? A mediation analysis of primary care data in England.

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Awan, Hassan 
Ford, John Alexander  ORCID logo


OBJECTIVES: To determine whether general practitioner (GP) workforce contributes to the link between practice funding and patient experience. Specifically, to determine whether increased practice funding is associated with better patient experience, and to what degree an increase in workforce accounts for this relationship. SETTING: Primary care practice level analysis of workforce, funding and patient experience of all NHS practices in England. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: The link between NHS-provided funding to general practice (payments per patient) and patient experience, as per the General Practice Patient Survey, was evaluated. Subsequently, mediation analysis, adjusted for covariates, was used to scrutinise the extent to which GP workforce accounts for this relationship (measured as the number of GPs per 10 000 patients). PARTICIPANTS: We included all general practices in England for which there was relevant data for each primary variable. Atypical practices were excluded, such as those with a patient list size of 0 or where the workforce variable was recorded as being more than 3 SD from the mean. After exclusion, 6139 practices were included in the final analysis. RESULTS: We found that workforce (GPs per 10 000 population) significantly (p<0.001) acts as a mediator in the effect of practice funding on overall patient experience even after adjusting for rurality, sex and age, and deprivation. On average, the mediated effect constitutes 30% of the total effect of practice funding on patient experience. CONCLUSIONS: The increase in the number of doctors in primary care in England appears to be a mechanism through which augmented practice funding could positively impact patient experience. Policy initiatives targeting improved patient experience should prioritise considerations related to workforce and practice funding.


Peer reviewed: True

Funder: Chevening Fellowships, the UK government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and partner organisations


primary health care, quality in health care, statistics & research methods, Humans, Mediation Analysis, General Practice, England, Workforce, Primary Health Care, Patient Outcome Assessment

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BMJ Open

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