Factors affecting general practice collaboration with voluntary and community sector organisations

Health Soc Care Community. 2018 May;26(3):e360-e369. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12538. Epub 2018 Jan 12.


Collaborative working between general practice (GP) and voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations is increasingly championed as a means of primary care doing more with less and of addressing patients' "wicked problems". This paper aims to add to the knowledge base around collaborative practice between GPs and VCS organisations by examining the factors that aid or inhibit such collaboration. A case study design was used to examine the lived-experience of GPs and VCS organisations working collaboratively. Four cases, each consisting of a GP and a VCS organisation with whom they work collaboratively, were identified. Interviews (n = 18) and a focus group (n = 1) were conducted with staff within each organisation. Transcribed data were analysed thematically. Whilet there are similarities across cases in their use of, for example, Health Trainers and social prescribing, the form and function of GP-VCS collaborations were unique to their local context. The identified factors affecting GP-VCS collaboration reflect those found in previous service evaluations and the broader literature on partnership working; shared understanding, time and resources, trust, strong leadership, operational systems and governance and the "negotiation" of professional boundaries. While the current political environment may represent an opportunity for collaborations to develop, there are issues yet to be resolved before collaboration-especially more holistic and integrated approaches-becomes systematically embedded into practice.

Keywords: case study research; general practice; health policy; health services research; interorganisational working; voluntary sector.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • England
  • General Practice / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Organizations, Nonprofit / organization & administration*
  • Politics
  • Primary Health Care
  • Professional Role
  • Trust