Learning to plan? A critical fiction about the facilitation of professional and practice development plans in primary care

J Interprof Care. 2002 Nov;16(4):349-58. doi: 10.1080/1356182021000008274.


A shift from continuing medical education towards professional and organisational development policies, coupled with the introduction of accountability frameworks (clinical governance), has generated interest in professional and practice development plans (PPDPs) in general practice. The problems of implementing this change in an independent contractor-based service remain unexplored and the aims of this study were to focus on the facilitator's experience of the issues that hampered or fostered development in general practice. Facilitators of PPDPs were asked to document their experience of supporting 12 practices in an all Wales feasibility study. In order to maintain organisational anonymity while reporting accurate accounts of the obstacles encountered, a method known as critical fiction was employed. This method allowed the authors to write detailed reflective accounts that were then fictionalised. The culture of general practice reflects the development of an independent contractor service that has developed into partnerships that employ some professionals (practice nurses, managers and administrative staff) and collaborate with others in variable arrangements (community nurses, health visitors, midwives and others). Developing organisation-wide systems in so-called 'primary health care teams' is a difficult exercise, given the ethos of autonomous decision-making processes and the lack of experience of 'whole systems' approaches in primary care. The potential for multiprofessional synergy and the evidence that systematic changes lead to sustained health care improvements are well established. But the implementation issues of these concepts have not been addressed. Existing educational policies are based in uniprofessional paradigms and the protected time requirements and funding streams required for PPDPs have not been clarified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Contract Services / organization & administration
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Family Practice / education
  • Family Practice / organization & administration*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Physicians, Family / education
  • Physicians, Family / psychology
  • Planning Techniques*
  • Practice Management, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • State Medicine
  • Wales