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CATALYST: evaluating a unique CPD programme


Professor Joanne Reeve

Professor Joanne Reeve

Professor of Primary Care Research

Myriam Dell'Olio

Dr Myriam Dell'Olio

Lecturer in Primary Care


April 2020 – July 2022


Why this research was needed

General Practice has a workforce crisis – struggling to both recruit and retain GPs. In 2020, NHS England recognised New To Practice GPs as a particularly vulnerable group needing additional support.

Humber was identified as one of 2 pilot sites tasked with developing, delivering and evaluating a new professional support programme for NTP GPs.

APC (lead Joanne Reeve) worked closely with then CCG lead Dr Dan Roper to design and implement the CATALYST CPD programme for new ro practice GPs.

CATALYST had 2 goals: to improve the skills and confidence of NTP GPs in the advanced practice of modern general practice; to enhance recruitment and retention to posts in the region.

Embedded within CATALYST was an evaluation programme to critically examine these 2 goals, and to understand if and how the programme was working.

The evaluation was led by Dr Myriam Dell’Olio. The project was funded by NHS Humber & Yorkshire.

What we did

We designed an evaluation of Catalyst using Normalization Process Theory (NPT) as our framework, as it helps explain how new practices can get embedded in people’s daily work.

Then, we conducted 36 individual interviews in total (19 at the beginning, and 17 at the end of the programme), and six focus group halfway through the programme with the participating GPs. These interviews did not only aim to explore Catalyst through the lens of NPT, but also to inquire into the participants’ wider professional practice.

To analyse these data, we adopted a qualitative approach. This consisted in coding the interview text data to identify patterns (themes) across the participants’ answers, which would explain how Catalyst was working to help them embed generalist medicine in their practice.

What we found

We learned that training in generalist medicine through Catalyst improved the professional experiences of the participating GPs by affecting their motivation, skills and confidence, and sense of belonging to a community of practice.

The elements of CATALYST that facilitated effective and positive changes included: redefining and transforming the functions of GPs and general practice in a more empowering way; engaging in supervised, research-informed quality improvement initiatives; allocating dedicated and structured time for reflective activities; integrating scientific evidence on generalist practice with clinical scenarios and clinical experience; fostering interactive learning that incorporates insights from both core tutors and participants; and facilitating discussions on clinical practices to enable like-minded colleagues to connect and establish a community of practice.


  • Two papers currently out at peer review
  • A research report for the funder (NHS)
  • Developed a new CATALYST CPD programme (starting in September 2024)

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