Digital Access

Digital Access

Securing Excellence in Primary Care (GP) Digital Services: The Primary Care (GP) Digital Services Operating Model 2021-2023, NHS England, 2022. 

The Operating Model is a commissioning framework supporting the provision of digital services required for general practices and primary care networks. It includes: 

  • Defining the digital requirements for general practice 
  • Standards and guidance on fulfilling these requirements to ensure quality, safety and compatibility 
  • The responsibilities for fulfilling these requirements 
  • The CCG agreement that CCGs are required to sign with each practice 
  • Digital capabilities necessary to enable each practice to fulfil its obligations under the GP Contract 
  • Funding arrangements for IT in general practice 
  • Commissioning, procurement and contract management 
  • Assurance: how NHS England evaluates the effectiveness of the Operating Model 
  • Addressing the challenges of digital technologies in general practice  



Creating a highly usable and accessible GP website for patients, NHS England, 2022. 

A guide for practice managers, PCNs, ICSs etc. on improving GP websites. Including: 

  • Making it easier for patients to achieve the tasks they use the website for 
  • Keeping it up to date 
  • NHS templates and design components 
  • Taking a ‘mobile first ‘ approach 
  • User experience  
  • User testing 
  • Accessibility 
  • Data and analytics 
  • Tendering processes 
  • Evaluating suppliers 
  • Contractual requirements of a GP website 


Digital First Primary Care, NHS England. 

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, commits to every patient having the right to be offered digital-first primary care by 2023/24. Digital First Primary Care is a programme which supports the transformation of primary care by promoting the implementation, understanding and improvement of digital tools within general practice e.g. online consultation requests and video consultations. 

These pages include: 

  • NHS England’s commitment to a digital-first approach 
  • Digital requirements of the GP contact 
  • Procurement 
  • NHS Digital Care Services (DCS) catalogue, including list of suppliers 
  • Digital First online consultation and video consultation framework 
  • National Commercial and Procurement Hub, expert procurement advice and support to buy through the DCS catalogue 
  • Resources: online Consultations toolkit, patient leaflet and evaluation form 
  • Contact details for advice 


Digital Primary Care, NHS Futures Workspace.

A platform for primary care colleagues to come together and share experiences, learning and resources. Includes: 

  • How to implement digital transformation 
  • Toolkits e.g. inclusive access toolkit 
  • How to procure digital systems 
  • Digital requirements of the GP contract 
  • Digital inclusion and inclusive access routes to general practice 
  • Data 
  • GP IT Services: digitisation of GP records, GP IT Futures and GP IT Operating Model 
  • Webinars 
  • Discussion board and blog 


Digital Access Inequalities  

Digital primary care: Improving access for all? Rapid evidence review, Charlotte Paddison, Nuffield Trust, 2022. 

Brief evidence summary of the impact of increased use of digital technologies in primary care on access. Includes: 

  • Digital exclusion and inequalities in access 
  • Tackling inequalities through inclusion, choice and personalisation 
  • Gaps in the evidence e.g. the impact on people with protected characteristics and how these intersect 


Digital exclusion and health inequalities, Good Things Foundation, 2021. 

This briefing paper provides an overview of digital exclusion and its relationship to health, social and economic aspects of people’s lives. Includes: 

  • What is digital exclusion? 
  • Digital exclusion and health, social and economic aspects of people’s lives 
  • Impact of the pandemic 
  • The groups most affected 
  • Policy and practical responses 
  • Ideas for collaborating for change 



Access to and delivery of general practice services: a study of patients at practices using digital and online tools, The Health Foundation, 2022. 

A study analysing data from 7,558,820 patient-initiated requests for primary care made using the askmyGP online consultation system between 1 March 2019 and 30 September 2021. Online requests were made by patients online, or by practice staff for patients who preferred to use the phone or visit in person. 

Key findings: 

  • 10% of patient care requests made to GP practices indicate a preference for a face-to-face consultation 
  • Online requests were increasing before the pandemic 
  • The rate of requests has increased during the pandemic, and is not driven by increased ability to access the practice online 
  • Almost 40% of all requests across these practices, regardless of the access route, were from the top 10% of requesters (frequent attenders) 
  • Care tended to be delivered according to patient characteristics, clinical/administrative needs, and preference 
  • More than 83% of all requests made at these practices were responded to within the same working day and the median time to respond was less than 4 working hours 
  • The use of an online consultation system alongside multimodal care delivery can be effective in managing demand and does not seem to disadvantage non-digital users. although more work is required to look at impacts relating to socioeconomic and health inequalities