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These blogs are about the NHS - but also about numbers. I hope that they raise some interesting points that come from the data. Sometimes I suggest that the data doesn’t look right - but maybe it is. Please tell me when I have got it wrong (as we all do, however carefully we look at it) or when I have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. And especially tell me if you can see a rationale or logic for the picture that I describe that I have missed.

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4 things in 4 years: reshaping NHS Alliance

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It has been an extraordinary privilege to lead NHS Alliance alongside Michael Dixon. I had no plans to become a Chief Executive again but Michael is a difficult man to say no to, and the opportunity to work alongside him and the extended family of the NHS Alliance was impossible to resist. So as we hand over to aq new leadership team, I would like to offer a few quick reflections on how far we have come over the last 4 years. I came in at a difficult point when the Alliance was facing an uncertain future. So what did we do?

First, we successfully shifted the focus from clinical commissioning to primary care provision. The NHS Alliance has always enjoyed taking the moral high ground – and giving away our core membership to help create NHS Clinical Commissioners was the right thing to do but raised serious questions about the purpose and future of NHS Alliance. It was increasingly clear to us that how providers work together - including how general practice works at scale and works with the rest of the wider community - would be central to our future mission.

Second, to support this we needed to overhaul the way we worked. Today is a key milestone in this journey, but NHS alliance has already become increasingly virtual, without an office base. We also took steps to reduce our costs, establishing new partnerships and build on our strengths – bringing together leaders across primary care who are passionate about using their experience and expertise to make a difference, connecting what happens on the front line with policy making in Whitehall.

Third, we needed to be clear about who we were and what we believed in. We have published two major statements of our values and aspirations - our Manifesto for Primary Care 'Breaking Boundaries' and towards the end of last year, just before the FYFV, our own 'Think Big, Act Now: Creating Communities of Care.' and we continue to produce ground breaking work, including ‘Pharmacists & General Practice’ that has shaped the rapid growth of practice pharmacists, our work on tackling the current recruitment crisis by creating a new role for practice pharmacists, working with Pharmacy Voice on ‘We are Primary Care’, bridging the gap between health and housing including ‘Housing: Just what the doctor ordered’ and most recently our work 'Making Time in General Practice' leveraging significant changes from the secretary of State.

Finally, we have built and developed a new team to lead NHS Alliance, bringing together a new generation of leaders for primary care. We have welcomed not just bright new stars from general practice but leaders from across the breath of primary care and the wider community; from housing, fire and rescue, community development and the police. And today is the culmination of this process, making way for a new leadership team. T

his is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of what is so special about NHS Alliance. In the end, it is always the people, the connections and the relationships. We manage to achieve a lot together and I have no doubt that the future will be every bit as impressive in the hands of the new leadership team. Personally, I am looking forward to shifting back to being part of the team, as before, rather than leading it as we continue to make the case for health and well being across our communities.

Rick Stern

10th December 2015

Outgoing Chief Executive, NHS Alliance

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Guest Friday, 22 June 2018

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.