GP’s and health charities – Improving understanding and engagement with GP’s
  • January 12, 2018

GP’s and health charities – Improving understanding and engagement with GP’s

In 2021 we ran two parallel studies, working with leading charities, to understand how GPs can work together to better support patients with cancer and those with long-term health conditions.

The first study looked at how specialist cancer charities can support general practice to achieve improved prevention and screening, faster diagnosis and improved patient care.

Four cancer charities were part of this collaborative project: Beating Bowel CancerThe Brain Tumour CharityRoy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and the Teenage Cancer Trust.  Bringing charities together enabled them to address common issues, share knowledge, learn from each other’s experiences and generate smarter solutions.

Alongside other leading cancer charities we are delighted to be involved in this research project, which will provide an evidence base to inform how we can work more effectively with general practitioners. GPs have a tough job and we in the third sector want to work with and alongside them in the interests of patients. Judith Brodie – Interim Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer

The second study looked at how specialist long-term condition charities can work more effectively with GPs to better support patients. Focusing on those living with long-term conditions, this collaborative research project ran with The British Heart FoundationAlzheimer’s Society and Arthritis Research UK.

This study is a fantastic opportunity to better understand how we can support GPs in their efforts to manage people living with long term conditions. Like the other partner charities, we are keen to understand the needs and challenges GPs face in their day to day work. We will do all we can to improve GPs’ access to the appropriate knowledge and information they require in supporting patients to manage their condition. Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation

Both studies canvassed the views of 200 GPs using both quantitative and qualitative research methods and explored:

  • GPs’ thoughts on how charities can support screening and diagnosis
  • what GPs need most from healthcare charities and how this can be best be delivered
  • how charities can ensure their engagement reduces rather than increases the burden of work for GPs
  • how charities could help with the wider issues and challenges facing primary care.

The public report for this project was published in late 2018 : the following are some og the recommendations , click here to see the full report.

  1. Ensure GPs are an effective channel for patients to access charities: show GPs that many patients are ‘missing out’ on the quality support and care that charities, including smaller ones, can provide. Increase referral by ensuring patient resources and signposting are ‘GP-friendly’, so they can offer and explain these to patients quickly (e.g. 30 seconds) during a consultation
  2. Connect with GPs by showing examples of support and education of the public and patients, increasing early diagnosis and prevention, and funding medical research − these are viewed as the most important roles for charities
  3. Create collaborative strategies between charities for training on issues where GPs would welcome charity activity (e.g. end-of-life care, self-management, diagnosis of difficult cases, management of complex and comorbid patients, and treatment side effects)
  4. Ensure charities are ‘stepping up’ to meet areas of unmet need as identified by GPs, including emotional support, practical and financial advice, end-of-life care, and community and social care (including funding services and medical care)
  5. Create a strategy for engaging with other primary care workers: practice managers, nurses, care coordinators, student GPs and nurses, allied health professionals and pharmacists. Care coordinators in particular could have an important role in signposting and care management of cancer patients in the future
  6. Use collaboration between charities to extend the reach and develop a consistent collective voice (for example, shared newsletters and articles, sharing space at conferences, joint materials) on the many shared issues.

Interested in future projects?

If you’d like to discuss this project or would be interested in applying to be part of other projects, then please contact Ben Hickman on 0161 503 5760 or e-mail 


1 House of Commons Health Committee, 2014
2 Department of Health, 2012
3 Baird, Charles, Honeyman, Maguire, & Das, 2016
4 Baird et al., 2016