We work with primary care teams to improve access to safe care.


The Primary Care Access Programme supports primary care teams to identify the root cause of access issues, prioritise changes and use quality improvement methodology to test and embed changes to improve access to care. Previous participants with examples of changes and the impact they made include:  

  • Appointments:
    • A Tayside medical centre changed five urgent appointments per afternoon to routine only. As a result, the number of patients asked to call back the next day decreased from 57% to 30%. Read the brief insights for more information.  
    • A Grampian medical practice introduced a minor illness clinic. In the first week of testing, 62 patients were seen in the new clinic instead of using an urgent GP appointment slot. Read the brief insights for more information. 
    • A Lothial medical practice changed its ratio of face-to-face to telephone appointments from 40/60 to 60/60.  This increased the practice's capacity and allowed more patients to receive the most suitable appointment type for their request. Read the brief insights for more information.
  • Pharmacotherapy
    • A Lothian medical centre introduced an online review process for repeat HRT prescription requests. The time taken for each HRT review decreased from 15 minutes to 3 minutes, and the number of HRT prescriptions reviewed and re-prescribed increased threefold. In a patient survey, 89% said the new process ‘was’ or ‘may be’ an improvement on the old process. Read the brief insights for more information. 
    • An Ayrshire and Arran medical practice created a new procedure to manage antidepressant prescription requests. The number of total acute prescription requests received by the practice decreased from 50-60 per day to an average of 28 requests per day. Read the brief insights for more information. Read the brief insights for more information. 

Find out more about who we worked with and what they worked on in our Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 infographics, read our recent article in The Scotsman, or listen to our podcast.

Find out which teams areparticipatingand learn how other services have used this opportunity.


Support for primary care teams

Participating teams receive support to understand their systems and to help improve an aspect of access over a 7-week sprint. Primary care teams benefit from opportunities to:

  • explore access challenges
  • select a specific area to investigate and improve using tried and tested improvement tools
  • test changes and monitor improvement, and
  • share learning within clusters and further afield.


Joining criteria 

Primary care teams interested in joining the programme are asked to meet three criteria to ensure they have the conditions for change to successfully receive support to improve an aspect of access.

Criteria one: Be a: 

  • GP cluster (if all practices can participate)
  • GP practice team​, or
  • multidisciplinary team in primary care.

Criteria two: Ability to identify a project team. For a practice team this may be a practice manager, senior administrator and, if available, a GP to participate in the sessions and take forward the sprint within the practice.

Criteria three: Availability to participate as required during the 7-week sprint. This will include two fixed date mandatory sessions and a further five flexible weekly coaching sessions. 

Visit the join the programme page for for more information or to apply to join the programme.


Get in touch 

Email us at his.pcpteam@nhs.scot if you have a question about the Primary Care Access Programme.