Collecting rapid COVID-19 intelligence to improve primary care response (RAPCI)

Quick link to RAPCI project final paper, report and interim summary reports

The COVID-19 pandemic has required GP practices to rapidly change the way they deliver consultations, for example by ensuring physical distancing.

In March 2020, most stopped making face-to-face appointments. Instead, patients either phoned their practice, completed an online written assessment or phoned NHS 111 and, because of the risk of infection, most patients were offered telephone or video consultations.

While GP practices are experienced at conducting telephone consultations, we know much less about how they use video consultations.

There is an opportunity to research how GP practices respond to the pandemic in terms of coping with changes in demand, implementing alternatives to face-to-face consultation, and the impact these changes are having on patient care. Rapid research is required to enable the results to be shared and used as early as possible to help improve GP practices response to the pandemic.

The Rapid COVID-19 intelligence to improve primary care response (RAPCI) project team will work with Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) and OneCare to collect information on 111 calls and GP appointments for the one million patients in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

They will examine how many calls were received from particular types of patients (for example by age, or with certain long-term conditions) and what the call was about to highlight changes in consultation types.

They will also conduct brief regular interviews with staff at selected GP practices to understand the challenges, the innovations GP practices have implemented and what can be done to support practices further to meet demand during the pandemic.

Project aims

To identify the changing demands on GP practices across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire during the COVID-19 pandemic and investigate common challenges and innovative solutions that practices have devised to cope with this.

Anticipated impacts

The project will help us understand how GP practices respond to the pandemic in the way they manage demand and implement alternatives to the face-to-face consultations. This information will be rapidly fed back to various practices, commissioners and policy makers to highlight common challenges in meeting demand during the pandemic and innovative ways practices have coped with this to help them to support GP practices in safely delivering care to patients during the current crisis.

What we found and what this means

See RAPCI project summary reports.

News stories relating to the study:

Read the RAPCI case study:

Case Study: Coping with the rapid shift to remote GP consultations during the coronavirus pandemic

Co-Principal Investigators

Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) Staff

  • Professor Chris Salisbury, Professor in Primary Health Care
  • Professor John Macleod, Professor in Clinical Epidemiology and Primary Health Care
  • Dr Andrew Turner, Senior Research Associate
  • Dr Rachel Denholm, Lecturer, CAPC,
  • Dr Anne Scott, Research Associate, CAPC,
  • Ms Helen Bolton, CAPC communications officer
  • Dr Victoria Wilson, CAPC Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Co-ordinator,
  • Collaborators
  • Geeta Iyer, GP Clinical lead for Primary Care Development at NHS Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire CCG (BNSSG CCG).

Partners on this project

  • University of Bristol
  • NIHR ARC West
  • Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG)
  • OneCare


This project is funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. Funding award: £39,801 and support from NIHR ARC West.

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