In December 2014, Macmillan Cancer Support commissioned Traverse (then known as the Office for Public Management) to undertake an independent evaluation of the Macmillan GP role. The evaluation aimed to develop an understanding of the impact of the Macmillan GPs on the local health economies that they work within, as well as the collective impact of the community (and clusters of Macmillan GPs), and the outputs generated.
Macmillan Cancer Support has funded GP positions from the early 1990’s, there are currently around 200 in the UK. The overall aim of all Macmillan GPs is to produce a recognisable improvement in the quality of cancer and palliative care provided by primary health care teams within a local health economy.
Posts are most commonly based within a local NHS organisation, and are typically funded by Macmillan Cancer Support for one or two sessions per week for an initial 2-3 year period, following which the local NHS organisation is expected to continue funding the post.
In December 2014, Macmillan Cancer Support commissioned Traverse, then known as Office for Public Management Limited (OPM), to undertake an independent evaluation of the Macmillan GP role. The evaluation aimed to develop an understanding of the impact of the Macmillan GPs on the local health economies that they work within, as well as the collective impact of the community (and clusters of Macmillan GPs), and the outputs generated.
Traverse evaluation leads met with programme leads from Macmillan in order to refine the evaluation methodology and approach. This meeting also enabled key stakeholders to be identified for early engagement in the evaluation, and enabled contractual agreements and key milestones to be clarified.
The following methods were employed in order to address the evaluation questions:
- Document review and evidence scoping
- Online survey of Macmillan GPs
- Interviews with Macmillan GPs and stakeholders
- A focus group with GP Advisors (GPAs)
- Development of 10 case studies
One of the most significant challenges on this project was to engage GPs (often an over-surveyed and unenthusiastic sample group) and get their input to the process. Traverse evaluation leads designed a self-completion survey, a link to the survey and supporting covering note was emailed out to all Macmillan GPs by Macmillan programme leads, with encouragement to complete the survey. Traverse provided a named point of contact in case of queries, and provided weekly updates to Macmillan regarding the numbers of responses being submitted. Although responses were anonymous, respondents were encouraged to provide their name if they were happy to be contacted to clarify their responses or to take part in a follow up interview / case study.
The process successfully engaged the sample group: 119 responses were received from 182 Macmillan GP recipients of the survey (65% response rate). The findings were submitted electronically directly back to Traverse, and were analysed and presented in a stand-alone report for Macmillan programme leads.
 There were 182 Macmillan GPs in post at the time of issuing the survey; since then, the number of Macmillan GPs has increased to 209.