Whither British general practice after the 2004 GMS contract?

Guro Huby (School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)
Bruce Guthrie (Tayside Centre for General Practice, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK)
Suzanne Grant (Department of General Practice, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Francis Watkins (Social Development Direct, Edinburgh, UK)
Kath Checkland (National Primary Care Research and Developement Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Ruth McDonald (National Primary Care Research and Developement Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Huw Davies (Social Dimensions of Health Institute, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK and University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Publication date: 21 March 2008



The purpose of this article is to provide answers to two questions: what has been the impact of nGMS on practice organisation and teamwork; and how do general practice staff perceive the impact?


The article is based on comparative in‐depth case studies of four UK practices.


There was a discrepancy between changes observed and the way practice staff described the impact of the contract. Similar patterns of organisational change were apparent in all practices. Decision‐making became concentrated in fewer hands. Formally or informally constituted “elite” multidisciplinary groups monitored and controlled colleagues' behaviour for maximum performance and remuneration. This convergence of organisational form was not reflected in the dominant “story” each practice constructed about its unique ethos and style. The “stories” also failed to detect negative consequences to the practice flowing from its adaptation to the contract.


The paper highlights how collective “sensemaking” in practices may fail to detect and address key organisational consequences from the nGMS.



Huby, G., Guthrie, B., Grant, S., Watkins, F., Checkland, K., McDonald, R. and Davies, H. (2008), "Whither British general practice after the 2004 GMS contract?", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 63-78. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777260810862416

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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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