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A collaboration between Warwick Medical School and Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences


...access to appointments is THE most pressing issue facing general practice.
- Pre-grant Public reviewer.



The aim of this study is to describe and compare what happens, long term to general practices that have introduced innovations designed to improve access to appointments. For decades there have been attempts to make new systems for timely access to appointments at the general practice, including offering online consultations, pre-consultation telephone calls or completion of an online form. During the 2020/21 pandemic many practices changed the way patients consulted with GPs and practice staff, using telephone and video consultations rather than face-to-face appointments. While some patients and staff were pleased to see these changes, others are concerned that (some) patients may have been deterred from seeking help.


We will start by looking at all the different models of access that have been used, looking at all the published research and talking to doctors, patients, researchers and policymakers. We will then work with eight different general practices in England to learn as much as we can about the different systems they use, how and why they have been adapted locally and what they learnt about their system during the pandemic. We will ask: what happened after practices introduced changes to patient access? Did the systems work or did they need adjustments? Were there safety concerns? Did they change again in the pandemic? We will compare these cases with a practice in Copenhagen to see what we might learn for the UK from their experience.

Project Details:

 Full project title:

Whatever happened to all those attempts to change access to General Practice? Revisiting case studies to learn about innovation, impact and SUStainable change.

 Length of project:

March 2022 – May 2024


NIHR, Health Service and Delivery Research Programme


Project reference number NIHR133620

Total £738,759

Joint Lead applicant/Co-PI:

  • Professor Catherine Pope, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford,
  • Associate Professor Helen Atherton, Unit of Academic Primary Care, University of Warwick