This latest study, which was based in inner-city London, involved training up five GPs to provide a headache service to their patients.
The researchers compared the level of service provided by the GPSIs with that provided by hospital neurology services.
A total of 117 patients who had experienced headaches were sent a postal questionnaire after they had either attended a specialist or the GPSI service. A total of 56 patients had attended hospital while the remaining 61 had seen a GPSI.
Overall, patient satisfaction was found to be higher in the GPSI group with 89 per cent of patients saying that the service was effective in helping to relieve their headache symptoms compared with 76 per cent from the hospital group.
The costs of a first and follow-up appointment with the GPSI was estimated as £136 and £68 respectively.
By comparison, the cost of neurology appointments was estimated at £203 for the first appointment and £122 for follow-ups.
The researchers, from Kings College London, conclude that the use of GPSIs could help patients with neurological problems get more services that are appropriate to their needs and provided at a lower cost.
BJGP Online 2008
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