Imperial College London

Thomas E Cowling

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Honorary Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 7456t.cowling Website




322Reynolds BuildingCharing Cross Campus





I study health services and health policy in England. I'm based in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, School of Public Health.

I completed my PhD, entitled 'Access to Primary Health Care in England: Policy, Theory and Evidence,' in October 2016. It focused on three topics:

Access to General Practice: The U.K. Government plans to make it easier for patients to see their family doctors in England. It intends to do this partly through extending the opening hours of general practices.

Patient Experience of General Practice: Patient experience has declined across several measures in national surveys since 2011-12. This includes measures related to access, satisfaction with opening hours, and overall experience.

Use of Emergency Hospital Services: From 2005-06 to 2014-15, visits to A&E departments in England increased from 18.8 to 22.4 million. Improving patient experience of general practice may moderate this trend.

I look at national policy on these topics and model their relationships using national surveys and hospital data. An overview of my work is in The BMJ here.

I work with Matthew Harris (Clinical Senior Lecturer in Public Health) and Azeem Majeed (Professor of Primary Care). Our research has been cited in national policy documents, including this National Audit Office report, and has featured in the broadcast media, such as on Sky News here.

Before my PhD, I studied Public Health (MPH; Distinction) and Biomedical Sciences (BSc; First Class Honours) at Imperial from 2008 to 2012.


PubMed    Orcid


Access, general practice, primary care, urgent care, A&E departments, emergency admissions, health services research, health policy, England.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Cowling TE, Harris M, Majeed A, 2017, Extended opening hours and patient experience of general practice in England: multilevel regression analysis of a national patient survey, BMJ Quality & Safety, Vol:26, ISSN:2044-5415, Pages:360-371

Cowling TE, Harris M, Watt H, et al., 2016, Access to primary care and the route of emergency admission to hospital: retrospective analysis of national hospital administrative data, BMJ Quality & Safety, Vol:25, ISSN:2044-5415, Pages:432-440

Cowling TE, Harris MJ, Majeed A, 2015, Evidence and rhetoric about access to UK primary care., Bmj, Vol:350

Cowling TE, Soljak MA, Bell D, et al., 2014, Emergency hospital admissions via accident and emergency departments in England: time trend, conceptual framework and policy implications., J R Soc Med, Vol:107, Pages:432-438

Cowling TE, Harris MJ, Watt HC, et al., 2014, Access to general practice and visits to accident and emergency departments in England: cross-sectional analysis of a national patient survey., Br J Gen Pract, Vol:64, Pages:e434-e439

Cowling TE, Cecil EV, Soljak MA, et al., 2013, Access to Primary Care and Visits to Emergency Departments in England: A Cross-Sectional, Population-Based Study, PLOS One, Vol:8, ISSN:1932-6203

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