University of Leicester eBulletin

Loughborough NHS Walk-In Centre Not Shown to Alter GP Workload

March 2003
No 66

Effect of NHS walk-in centre on local primary healthcare services: before and after observational study, BMJ Volume 326  

Introduction of NHS walk-in centres may not affect the workload of local general practitioners, but more evidence is needed to determine their true impact on other local healthcare services, according to studies in this week's British Medical Journal.

Researchers from the University of Leicester Department of Epidemiology and Public Health compared the activity of local general practices (GPs) and use of emergency healthcare services by people from Loughborough and Market Harborough, before and after a walk-in centre opened in Loughborough.

They found no significant effect on GP emergency consultations, the availability of routine appointments with GPs, use of GP out of hours services, or the number of calls to NHS Direct. However, the workload of the Minor Injuries Unit in Loughborough increased significantly when compared with the Unit in Market Harborough, probably because it was in the same building as the walk-in centre.

These results concurred with a second study, in which researchers from the NHS Walk-In Centre National Evaluation Team based at the University of Bristol assessed the impact of NHS walk-in centres on the workload of 20 accident and emergency departments, 40 general practices, and 14 out of hours services in England. Their results imply that walk-in centres may moderate the increasing demand on general practice and reduce the number of consultations in accident and emergency departments. However, any impact of a walk-in centre was not statistically significant. They conclude that to determine whether walk-in centres reduce the demand on other local NHS providers will require study of a large number of sites over a prolonged period.

NOTE TO EDITORS: For further information contact Dr Ronald Hsu, Clinical Lecturer in Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Leicester, UK, +44 (0)116 252 3283, email rth4@leicester.ac.uk

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: March 2003
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