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Without intending to cause too much offence to the baking community here, both are experts in the way they use ingredients but I’m sure you’ll be aware, there is a difference.

“I thought I was reading a blog about data?” you may ask. Perhaps I’m hungry this morning or I was trying to find an obscure comparison, highlighting that just because you use similar ingredients doesn’t make you the same expert. So why do we accept analysts and experts in secondary care, social care, public health and so on, baking the cakes for Primary Care?

From my perspective, I don’t believe it is by choice. I mean, seriously, who would ask a baker to make their choux buns! Both spend years and years in hot kitchens, mastering their art, engulfed in bread or cakes. This, underpinned by course after course on how to make the perfect icing, ultimately leading to be an expert, albeit using flour, eggs, water and a bit of salt, the result is a deep understanding of their output.

So why do we expect analysts from an array of backgrounds to truly understand the challenges, caveats, nuances, and insights that comes with Primary Care. The answer is the supply. Unfortunately, as a health care system we do not dedicate time and resource in training General Practice staff, we tack it on to the staff that are already in IT lead roles, QoF roles and now Digital and Transformation Lead roles. We expect many General Practice staff to become “jack of all trades”, but rarely give them the opportunity to become an expert in data. We need to act now, to grow more dedicated analysts for the future of General Practice.

I’ve spent the last few years immersed in analytical communities, experiencing what happens across Trusts, ICBs, and other Health and Care organisations and it is phenomenal the strides that are being taken. From an abundance of training courses, paid and free, formal, and informal, to supportive National Competency Frameworks to ensure clear career pathways and highlighting the importance of leadership roles such as Chief Analytical Officers. Now, it’s not that this isn’t available to General Practice, but I certainly question if we managed to get communications out to the right people, would they actually put themselves forward? I know from experience that I would struggle to find any practice staff that would identify as an analyst.

So, to the point of my brain dump? We need to step up, focus on improving our General Practice Analyst capability and capacity, concentrating on training, and developing our workforce to create a pipeline of experts to ensure the future of General Practice data and analytics is provided by those will the hands-on experience in a Surgery.

In the meantime, I have the privilege of driving forward these conversations nationally with PCNs, ICBs NHS Confed and NHSE Execs and if you want to join me moving this forward then get in touch. It’s time that General Practice told its own story.

Conor Price

Managing Director

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