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We are all grappling with the same ‘wicked’ problems in primary care, whether it is improving access, preserving continuity of care, or reducing inequalities. There is no silver bullet for any of these problems.

Because priorities for improvement work are mostly set at a national or regional level, we are all working on similar projects. This creates opportunities for primary care teams to learn and share ideas and insights.

It strikes me that, unlike in secondary care and in many community trusts, we don’t have the infrastructure to support this type of learning. As a result, we are often improving in silos. So how can we collaborate and share ideas together, to make general practice what we want it to be?

If you’re discovering the Q community, it’s a space that aims to do just this. It is about bringing people together who have an interest in health care improvement so that they can pool their knowledge, insights and connections. With around 4,000 members, the Q community includes a diverse range of forums and groups that focus on improvement within specific disciplines and areas in health and care. The Q Primary Care Special Interest Group (SIG) was founded as a collaborative learning space for those with an interest in improving primary care.

Sustainability was identified by the Q Primary Care SIG as one area where we wanted to invest our time, resources and effort to support meaningful change. Aarti Bansal, a GP who co-founded the greener general practice movement, came to speak to the group about the opportunities for improvement within asthma care.

Inspired by that session, a small and enthusiastic group of us are working on how to reduce over-reliance on short acting beta 2 agonists. We are looking at how to safely switch patients from meter dose to dry powder inhalers, which have a much lower carbon footprint. We will be sharing the results of our work to the Q group so that we can harness the expertise and benefit from the wide representation that this network offers.

This type of collaborative working is what Q is all about.

When I became a Q member a few years ago, there were fewer GPs involved in Q. Although there had been a phenomenal conference when the primary care forum was launched, it had not been particularly active, and I felt this was a missed opportunity.

GPs across the United Kingdom are involved in improvement work – it’s part and parcel of what we do. Apart from delivering front line patient care, we are always looking at ways in which we can improve health outcomes for our population. We do this by looking at our processes and by focusing on what our workforce needs to be able to deliver excellent care.

In the last year I have chaired a number of Q learning events that have centred around key areas relevant to primary care.

In 2020 Q held an event to look at improving rates of immunisation during the pandemic

These have ranged from rethinking how we deliver mass vaccination in a pandemic, considering how we foster ‘joy in work’ and brainstorming how we address the sustainability agenda in primary care (see Related Links). It’s made me realise just how important communities of practice are, and how much potential there is to learn from each other and share and streamline resources.

It is reassuring to hear others be open about their improvement journeys and – spoiler alert – they almost always involve several bumps in the road.

You may not identify as an improver. But everyone benefits from hearing inspirational stories about how improvement tools and the behavioural science elements of change management can give us the confidence to get started and take meaningful, practical action in our own areas of practice.

Our motto in the SIG is to ‘ freely give and freely receive’ both of our time and our talents.
If you are looking for ideas, enjoy being part of continuity, and you like the idea of improving together, then the Q primary care SIG is for you. You can join this growing network by whether becoming a Q member or signing up as a guest.

Do join us.

You can also register your spot for the latest event from the Primary Care Special Interest Group: Supporting high quality, low carbon asthma care – 12.30 – 13.30, 30 November 2021

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