GP emergency admissions fall as A&E sends more patients into hospital

The number of patients admitted to hospital by GPs is 17% lower than it was almost a decade ago, according to a study funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

A&E: emergency admissions up as referrals from GPs fall
A&E: emergency admissions up as referrals from GPs fall

It found that 1.12m patients were admitted by GPs in England in 2001/02, compared with 0.93m in 2010/11.

Over the same period, hospital admissions via A&E departments rose by 72%, from 2.1m to 3.6m.

Researchers from Imperial College London, who produced the study, described the findings as ‘curious’, and they said reasons for the simultaneous drop in GP admissions and rise in admissions via A&E was ‘currently unclear’.

They did suggest, however, that one factor behind the figures could be an ‘increased failure of management in primary care and outpatient settings’. Changes in patients’ ‘healthcare-seeking behaviour’, might also explain the statistics.

Most patients make right choice

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said that despite recent rhetoric, most patients made the right choice when going to see their GP or to A&E, and those who did present to A&E were often elderly frail patients who needed to be admitted.

‘GPs have been working hard to enable as many patients as possible to avoid being admitted to hospital and the reduction in GP referrals is a sign of this, but nevertheless there will always be a need for some patients to be admitted,’ he said.

‘It's also likely that the four-hour A&E target has had an impact, where patients are admitted to avoid breaching the target, and it’s another example of how targets can often hinder good care rather than improve it.’

The report's authors said that new models of urgent care services that employ GPs in A&E departments as gatekeepers to specialist urgent care must be evaluated before being introduced more widely to assess the likely effect on hospital admission numbers.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

BMA backs negligence action against GMC and hospital over doctor's suicide

BMA backs negligence action against GMC and hospital over doctor's suicide

The BMA is supporting legal action over alleged negligence and under the Human Rights...

GPs recognised in Queen's birthday honours

GPs recognised in Queen's birthday honours

GPs are among those who have been recognised in the Queen's birthday honours.

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

The healthcare crisis in Myanmar - how UK GPs can help

The healthcare crisis in Myanmar - how UK GPs can help

Dr Jim Brockbank from Myanmar UK GP Health Action provides an update on how the military...

GPs warn of 'open floodgates' as 84% say e-consultations have driven up workload

GPs warn of 'open floodgates' as 84% say e-consultations have driven up workload

More than four fifths of GPs say e-consultation systems adopted in the pandemic have...

Map: Which CCGs have the highest COVID-19 vaccine coverage?

Map: Which CCGs have the highest COVID-19 vaccine coverage?

Tens of millions of COVID-19 jabs have been administered across England, but how...