Improving access to primary care: a mixed-methods approach studying a new review appointment system in a Scottish GP practice

Jay Slater (Lead / Corresponding author), Salahuddin Malik, Peter Davey, Suzanne Grant

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A Scottish general practitioner (GP) practice proposed an improvement intervention, shorter pre-bookable 'review' appointments, to increase appointment capacity and meet their patients' demand for appointments. Staff are now able to pre-book these review appointments for patients, guaranteeing that the patient will see the same GP or advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) for both initial and review appointments. By shortening the review appointments, more patients were seen each day, hence the appointment capacity increased. The aim of this project was to examine the impact of the improvement intervention, pre-bookable review appointments, using a mixed-methods approach. Ethnographic methods (non-participant observation, participant observation and eight semistructured interviews with administrative staff) provided qualitative data, to understand the appointment system and to identify areas for further improvement. Quantitative data were then collected to assess: the number of patients receiving 'on the day' appointments, with the aim for this to be 95% (outcome measure); by how much the number of appointments available had increased (process measure) and the administrative staff workload (balancing measure). During a 7-week period, 3 months post-intervention, a median of 93% of patients received an 'on the day' appointment when they phoned for one between 08:00 and 09:00. The number of appointments available increased by 43%. Administrative staff workload (number of calls received per day) remained the same. Patients prefer being able to book in to see the same GP (continuity of care) and the ability to book in advance. Administrative staff workload decreased in terms of dealing with less frustrated patients. Main suggestions for improvement include introducing later appointments for workers and text reminders for pre-booked (review and online) appointments. The introduction of pre-bookable review appointments improved patient accessibility in the practice. Next steps for improving the appointment system include gaining clinician (GP/ANP) opinions on review appointments and trialling later appointments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001279
Number of pages6
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number2
Early online date25 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • education
  • general practice
  • healthcare quality improvement
  • quality improvement
  • 1506
  • Quality improvement report

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Leadership and Management


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