Developing a New Web Based Tool


This initiative has developed out of the report we prepared for the Department of Health in May 2009, supported by the RCGP and the BMA and circulated to all practices and PCTs across the Country.  Although the report was well received, many general practices have struggled to translate what needs to be done into practical steps to make it happen in their own practice. 


Developing the tool and what it does

We worked with a number of pilot sites across England in 2010 & 2011 to understand more about how we could best support the way practices manage access, capacity and their response to urgent care. We developed a web based tool so that there is a simple way for all practices to assess how easily patients can access care, the match between demand and availability for appointments and how staff respond to urgent demand for care. A practice enters data covering a week in the practice and a largely automated report is produced. Reports enable practices to compare how effectively they manage these areas compared with other practices across their locality of CCG, as well as against others across the Country.


What information do we collect?

There are basically three different types of information collected through the survey. 

How you work in your practice. The first section of the survey has 14 multiple choice questions providing an important description of the practice that, combined with other data, helps us suggest areas that the practice may be able to address to improve the way they manage access and urgent care.

Data for a sample week. The second part covers ‘Opening Hours’, ‘Telephony’, ‘Walk In Appointments’, ‘Consultations’ and ‘Additional Information’.  These each require the practice to enter data about one week that they select as a reasonably normal week for the practice. 

The Reception Quiz. This third part designed as a support tool for everyone who carries out reception duties in the practice, either taking calls or speaking to patients who walk in to the surgery.  It looks at levels of confidence to manage urgent cases before asking how they would deal with 13 different scenarios of patients presenting with potentially urgent problems.  This is not a clinical quiz but it does check on whether there is a consistent response.  The quiz is intended to be the basis for a follow up session in the practice for reception staff, preferably with the practice manager and a GP.


What do results show so far?

Results so far suggest that practices are far more likely to change if reports are based on their own data with practical suggestions for how to make improvements.  There are potentially significant gains if practices in each area manage urgent care effectively as we have seen reductions in acute admissions in some cases that are estimated as between 20 and 40% as a result of good management of urgent care in general practice.  Although this benefit will not be achievable in every case the aim of the work is to fill the gap in capability of practices to undertake regular and ongoing capacity planning to ensure their response to urgent care is as effective as possible. 

A case study from a practice that has already been involved in an early pilot is included below. More case studies will be available soon providing other examples of how practices have used this information to improve care and reduce costs in the wider healthcare system.


How can you get involved?

We are now able to work with more practices – to find out more CLICK HERE


About Us

The Primary Care Foundation was established to support the development of best practice in primary and urgent care.  The three Directors bring different skills and perspectives to understanding primary and urgent health care - for more details click below:

David Carson

Rick Stern

Henry Clay



Latest News

New on-line registration for the potentially avoidable appointments audit

The Primary Care Foundation were selected by NHS England to further improve and automate the audit of potentially avoidable appointments. We are now building a new website with Method Analytics that will make it much easier for any practice to register online, will simplify data collection for clinicians, and will allow for instant reporting on results. The reports will be much easier to understand and will signpost other support. And it will remain free to use for all practices in England.

We are now ready to go live with a new ‘test’ site. We are confident it is already easier to use but we are keen to get any feedback from practices before the new website is fully up and running.

If you are a practice in England and you want to register, CLICK HERE  and click on ‘register here to create a practice audit!’ You will be guided through registration and how to set up your clinicians to take part in the audit.  This is a new test site, so if you notice anything that doesn’t look right, or could be made easier, just let us know.  And the same for your clinicians as they enter data – any feedback at the moment – good or bad – would be really helpful … just email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


What do we mean by an ‘avoidable appointment?

The latest blog by Rick Stern ‘If only …’ explores the idea of avoidable appointments, what practices have gained from the audit, and what might be possible with further investment in general practice. It is available HERE and will also be published in Health Care Leader.


Are there any simple lessons for practices looking to improve access?

A feature article in Management in Practice by Rick Stern reviews what we have learned from working with over 1,500 practices across the UK – you can read the full article HERE  


Integrated Urgent Care – how to make NHS 111 work

A lead article for Health Care Leader by Henry Clay describes a financial and capacity model developed for NHS England, the potential benefits and pitfalls, and what we have learned from working with a dozen areas to apply the model. The article is available at HERE and a fuller version with a number of explanatory graphs can be downloaded HERE


Integrated Urgent Care – opportunity for support to your locality

We have developed a financial model for the Integrated Urgent Care Team at NHS England that focuses on the NHS 111 and OOH ‘front end’ to an integrated urgent care system (but also looks at the cost of onward referrals to other services). This is proving to be an invaluable tool for both commissioners and providers. It is now available to use and NHS England have also agreed to support some sites to setup and work through the model with PCF’s Henry Clay who developed the model. For further information please contact Henry on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


We are now supporting over 1,500 practices across the UK to manage access and urgent care

Our support for general practices looking to improve access for patients and streamline the management of urgent care continues to expand. Based on a web based tool, developed out of our work commissioned by the Department of Health, we collect practice data for one week and prepare a report for each practice looking at how you compare to others and explore what this means for making practical changes in the way you work. We are regularly improving the format of our reports for practices based on constant feedback. If you would like to see an example report, CLICK HERE.  If you want to know more about how we might work with you please contact Rick Stern on  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call on 07709 746771.