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The general practice perspective on barriers to integration between primary and social care: a London, United Kingdom-based qualitative interview study

  • Naqvi, D
  • Malik, A
  • Al-Zubaidy, M
  • Naqvi, F
  • Tahir, A
  • Tarfiee, A
  • Vara, S
  • Meyer, E
Publication Date
Aug 02, 2019
Spiral - Imperial College Digital Repository
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Objective: There is an ongoing challenge of effective integration between primary and social care in the United Kingdom; current systems have led to fragmentation of services preventing holistic patient-centred care for vulnerable populations. To improve clinical outcomes and achieve financial efficiencies, the barriers to integration need to be identified and addressed. This study aims to explore the unique perspectives of frontline staff (General Practitioners and Practice Managers) towards these barriers to integration. Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis to obtain results. Setting: General Practices within London. Participants: 18 General Practitioners (GPs) and 7 Practice Managers (PMs) based in London with experience of working with social care. Results: The study identified three overarching themes where frontline staff believed problems exist: accessing social services, interprofessional relationships, and infrastructure. Issues with contacting staff from other sectors creates delays in referrals for patient care and perpetuates existing logistical challenges. Likewise, professionals noted a hostile working culture between sectors that has resulted in silo working mentalities. In addition to staff being overworked as well as often inefficient multidisciplinary team meetings, poor relationships across sectors cause a diffusion of responsibility, impacting the speed with which patient requests are responded to. Furthermore, participants identified that a lack of interoperability between Information Systems, lack of pooled budgets and misaligned incentives between managerial staff compound the infrastructural divide between both sectors. Conclusion: In this study, primary care staff identify intangible barriers to integration such as poor interprofessional relationships, in addition to more well-described structural issues such as insufficient funding and difficulty accessing social care. Participants believe educating the next generation of medical professionals may lead to the development of collaborative, instead of siloed, working cultures and that change is needed at both an interpersonal and institutional level to successfully integrate care.

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