Imperial College London

Dr Thomas Cowling

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Honorary Lecturer



t.cowling Website




Reynolds BuildingCharing Cross Campus





I am an Honorary Lecturer in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London.

I am also Assistant Professor in Clinical Epidemiology in the Department of Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (see here).

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

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

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

Use of Emergency Hospital Services: From 2006-07 to 2015-16, visits to A&E departments in England increased from 18.9 to 22.9 million. Improving patient experience of general practice may moderate this trend.

I looked at national policy on these topics and modelled their relationships using national surveys and hospital data. An overview of my work is in The BMJ here. My PhD thesis is here.

My PhD was funded by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Doctoral Research Fellowship (DRF-2013-06-142).

I received three Early Career Researcher prizes from the Society for Academic Primary Care, was cited in national policy documents, including this National Audit Office report, and featured in broadcast media, such as on Sky News here.

I studied Public Health (MPH) and Biomedical Sciences (BSc) at Imperial from 2008 to 2012.


PubMed    Orcid    LSHTM


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

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Majeed FA, Harris M, 2018, Importance of accessibility and opening hours to overall patient experience of general practice: analysis of repeated cross-sectional data from a national patient survey in England, British Journal of General Practice, Vol:68, ISSN:0960-1643, Pages:e469-e477

Cowling T, Majeed F, Harris M, 2018, Patient experience of general practice and use of emergency hospital services in England: regression analysis of national cross-sectional time series data, BMJ Quality & Safety, Vol:27, ISSN:2044-5415, Pages:643-654

Cowling T, Harris M, Majeed F, 2016, 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:2044-5423, Pages:360-371

Cowling TE, Harris M, Watt H, et al., 2015, 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 T, Soljak M, Cecil E, 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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