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Change capacity: the route to service improvement in primary care

Background This paper draws on data from five English primary care trust (PCT) case studies whichformed part of a larger research project that explored the roles and relationships of clinical managers and their colleagues in periods of change within different healthcare organisations.Aims This article uses empirical data to further our understanding of how primary care organisations can successfully implement service improvements.Method Qualitative methods were used to compare across multiple cases. Three methods were utilised comprising semi-structured interviews, document analysis and observation at meetings. Through an iterative process of data coding using the Nvivo data analysis software, final conclusions developed and became more explicit. Data were collected between mid-2002 and 2005. Results Our analysis demonstrates the important influence of context on the change process. The case studies provide evidence of the nature of the relationships between context and progress in organisational change. We identified three interrelated dimensions of organisational context that played a crucial role in the progress or otherwise of service improvement. Conclusion We conclude that primary care organisations need to have three key features in combination to successfully implement service improvements. These are (i) the presence of change leaders, at several levels throughout the organisation; (ii) a coherent change strategy; and (iii) a sound foundation of relationships between managers and clinical professional groups.


Louise Fitzgerald, Gerry McGivern, Juan I Baeza

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