Walk-in centres duplicate GP care

A study that showed that walk-in centres extend care that GPs offer at their surgeries has been welcomed by the DoH.

Walk-in centres duplicate GP care
Walk-in centres duplicate GP care

The study of access to primary care in 2,509 surgeries found that being within 3km of a walk-in centre had no effect on waiting times for a GP appointment.

The researchers from the School of Health and Related Research at Sheffield University concluded in the BMJ that walk-in centres 'may extend and potentially duplicate' GP care.

The DoH welcomed the findings, saying that the centres 'attracted patients who would not have otherwise visited a GP'.

This was 'exactly our intention' because people fit in accessing healthcare around their daily lives, a spokesman said.

The study's lead researcher Dr Ravi Maheswaran, a public health doctor, said the conclusion 'leads into the government's choice agenda'.

The research team said they might see an association between shorter waiting times and a walk-in centre opening up within 3km of a GP's surgery.

But they showed that while 48-hour-access achievements improved from 67 per cent to 87 per cent of practices over the study's 21 months, proximity to a walk-in centre had no impact on this.

The lack of any effect led the researchers to conclude that walk-in centres should not be used to shorten waiting times to access primary care.

prisca.middlemiss@haymarket.com  

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