What are the London Outcome Standards?

The General Practice Outcome Standards cover the range of services provided by general practice and represent a level of care everyone should expect to receive from their GP surgery. They cover areas such as screening, diagnosis and patient experience.

The standards have been carefully selected and developed with professional advice from London-wide Local Medical Committees and in collaboration with a wide range of groups, including doctors, nurses, general practice staff, NHS managers and the public.

They represent a major step forward for general practice in London, and give the public easy access to important information.  The set of standards and the way they are presented will develop and improve over time - so keep visiting this site to catch up with new information about general practice in London.

In July 2012 five standards were added to the original set. The new standards are the next step in ensuring a comprehensive overview is given of the whole range of services provided by general practice.

The new standards cover:

  • early detection of cancer;

  • mental health (depression and serious mental illness);

  • end of life registers.

A previously unpublished standard on people changing GP practice is also published for the first time.

 

Dr Howard Freeman talks about the London outcome standards for general practice

What are the London Outcome standards?

While taking a look around the myhealthlondon website, you may have visited the homepage for your local practice and noticed a section entitled ‘Outcome Standards’. What this refers to is a set of twenty two standards that represent the minimum patients should expect to receive from their general practice, in areas such as diagnosis, screening and ease of making appointments.

 Why were they developed?

Until now, The Primary Care Trusts in charge of practices across the capital have been able to set their own standards, and often these have been very different from each other, making it difficult for patients to compare surgeries. Now, though, London will be the first city to publish data about its primary care service in one place, making it available to all. Centralising the system will make things easier for both patients and GPs – so that we’re very clear that we’re using the same parameters to judge practices across London.

 Why did we choose this first set?

We’ve thought hard about what these standards ought to be, and developed them with the help of a wide range of groups, including the Department of Health, doctors, nurses, general practice staff and patients and NHS London.

One of the things we decided was that this had to be about outcomes. It wasn’t about process, and measuring what doctors were doing, it was about the end result of what they’d done. Another stipulation was that the data had to be something that the NHS already collected – we didn’t want to start a whole new industry of collecting figures, asking GPs to fill in 50,000 different forms to be put in a filing cabinet.

On myhealthlondon, patients can visit the homepage for their local surgery and measure it against others across the city in just a few clicks. You can compare up to five practices at once, comparing as many standards as you want to. After all, these are public services, paid for with public money, and the public have a right to know the outcomes of the resources they’re putting in.

 What are the benefits to patients and GP services?

The new standards will help those in charge find ways to improve services too. Practices in the capital face unique challenges, including huge extremes of affluence and poverty, but no GP surgery in London is in itself absolutely unique, and the GP Outcome Standards take advantage of this fact. Let’s look at immunisation, for example. Through its use we’ve eradicated polio from the UK, smallpox worldwide – it’s one of the most effective tools that doctors can use. We’ve got real variations across the capital in immunisation rates, and one of the things that many GPs will tell you is, ‘it’s because of the population I serve’. Now that we’re comparing rates across London, we can start saying, ‘Well, actually, look, you may be in a deprived part of Greenwich, but have a look at that practice in a deprived part of Hackney, and they’re actually achieving quite high immunisation uptake rates. So why don’t we look at how they’re doing it, and see what lessons will apply to you?’

 What next?

This is about supporting general practice and trying to improve it. We’re calling it myhealthlondon because it is about what you as an individual want to get from it and we will be expanding it to include information on a wide range of London health and well being services. It will enable GPs to have a dialogue with their patients, and we want patients and patient groups to become a part of the process too. It’s a wonderful tool for people, and a brilliant way they can start to look at their practice, at other practices, and ask questions andmake choices.