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


The Primary Care Access Programme (PCAP) is a 7-week improvement programme which combines quality improvement (QI), demand, capacity, activity, queue (DCAQ) and sprint methods and approaches. It includes tested tools and approaches which are used at pace to provide support to primary care teams. This support is designed to help teams to use data to explore their challenges, identify areas for change and improve an aspect of access. Previous participants with examples of change ideas 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%.  
    • A Lothian 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. 
  • 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.  
    • 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 ourevaluation report for Cohorts 1- 3 of the PCAP. The report summarises key learning and participant feedback on the programme, and  highlights the impact PCAP has on access. 

Visit our Learning from Teams page to find out more about who we worked with and what they worked on. 


Support for primary care teams

Participating teams receive support toexplore challenges, identify areas for change and improve an aspect of access over a  7-week programme. 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: 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 contribute to the programme within the practice. 

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

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


Get in touch 

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