Quality and safety

The Quality and Safety research group is a collaboration of researchers across the University of Manchester in primary care, economics, dentistry and pharmacy.

Quality of care

We have an international track record over many years in developing ways of defining, measuring and improving the quality and safety of health care, focusing mainly on primary care. We have developed ways of measuring the quality of care for major chronic diseases and developed questionnaires to assess patients' experiences of primary care and the prevailing safety climate in primary healthcare organisations. A substantial part of our programme relates to the evaluation of UK government quality strategies, such as the 2004 General Medical Services contract and the quality incentives in the Quality and Outcomes Framework pay-for-performance scheme for general practice; and evaluating pharmacy and dentistry contractual and incentivisation arrangements. Underpinning much of our work has been analyses of large primary care databases. Our research is based on the premise that maximising care for individuals must be placed in the context of providing and optimising health care for populations, whilst recognising the complexity and precedence of the therapeutic relationship between individual patients and health practitioners. Our working definition of quality includes focus on individual patients within the context of populations of patients and includes dimensions of access, effectiveness, equity, efficiency and health outcomes (Campbell et al 2000).

Patient safety

The majority of people who have contact with health care providers receive high quality care but unfortunately for some people their treatment results in harm. The identification and reduction of harm has become a major priority for the NHS. The main impetus has come from highly publicised adverse events in the secondary care sector and most of the research to date has focused on hospitals, but there is now an increasing focus on primary care. The potential for safety problems in primary care is significant, as this is where most patient contacts take place, and there is more uncertainty associated with providing care in community settings. Our work has been awarded with a prestigious NIHR grant of £6,291,208 for NIHR the Greater Manchester Translational Research Centre for Primary Care Patient Safety, which is hosted by the Institute of Population Health and with its main offices in the Centre for Primary Care.

Impact of our research

Our work around pay for performance, accreditation for general practice, and improving patient experience has led to fundamental changes to the delivery of care in the UK and internationally.