New Opportunities

For Practices to audit their appointments and

For local health systems to shape their integrated urgent care system

Setting up the Benchmark

The Primary Care Foundation developed a completely new approach that is driven by data extracts supplied by out of hours providers for four separate weeks over a six month period.  This is supplemented by web based questionnaires for both  commissioners and providers, ensuring that we derive the information we need from the people best placed to provide it, as well as requiring both parties to validate and ‘sign off’ each others’ submissions.

There were extensive pilots during 2008 allowing us to improve and refine the benchmark, including processes for collecting and validating data, the key performance measures, as well as how we support members to reflect on the findings and focus on the priorities for service improvement.  We shared the developing findings at conferences, SHA-wide networks and through articles (e.g. Health Service Journal, 11 September 2008, pp. 23-24.).  Although the benchmark had to have the support of out of hours providers (and was actively supported by the NHS Alliance, the main representative body within this sector), we were clear that it needed to be owned and paid for by the commissioners, so it was important to promote the initiative with PCTs.  Important decisions about the scope of the benchmark and setting a price were made with a national advisory group involving leaders from PCTs, providers, the Department of Health and the Audit Commission.  We also decided that to further enhance the benchmark a separate, authoritative measure of patient experience was needed and this has been added by working in partnership with CFEP UK Surveys, a leading provider of patient surveys in primary care and out of hours services.

After each round of the benchmark, a report is sent to each commissioner and service provider identifying their performance, but providers currently retain their anonymity, although after a major consultation, this is set to change for the fourth round. We also run a series of half-day workshops with both commissioners and providers to help them understand the different measures and how they can be used to improve performance locally.  These include an analysis of a number of possible explanatory factors allowing PCTs and services to compare themselves with others with similar population density or deprivation. 

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

Healthcare Leader Forum

Henry Clay will be speaking at the upcoming Healthcare Leader Forum: Improving urgent and emergency care conferences on 14th September at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole and also in Reading on the 21st September. This interactive conference will give its audience vital insight into the delivery of streamlined, efficient urgent care pathways emerging from regional transformation partnerships and local initiatives. Speakers will explore the necessary steps to ensure the audience know how to guarantee their organisation is fully prepared and that services are properly resourced.


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

A new 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


A new audit of potentially avoidable appointments in general practice – available to all practices at no cost

This audit was developed as part of our research for NHS England with the initial results - suggesting that 27% of GP appointments are potentially avoidable - published in ‘Making Time in General Practice’. NHS England are now committed to extending this work by funding support for practices - so there is no direct cost - of an App you can download on to your computer screen, making it really easy for you to see how many of your appointments might be avoidable and helping you explore how you might be able to do something about it. If you want to know more, download Frequently Asked Questions, the Governance Statement and the Application Form and take a quick look at a virtual tour or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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.