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Impact of NHS walk-in centres on primary care access times: ecological study

Maheswaran, R., Pearson, T., Munro, J., Jiwa, M., Campbell, M.J. and Nicholl, J. (2007) Impact of NHS walk-in centres on primary care access times: ecological study. BMJ, 334 (7598). pp. 838-841. ISSN 0959-8146

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Abstract

Objective: To examine whether walk-in centres contribute to shorter waiting times for a general practice appointment.

Design: Ecological study.

Setting: 2 509 general practices in 56 primary care trusts in England; 32 walk-in centres within 3 km of one of these practices.

Main outcome measure: Waiting time to next available general practitioner appointment (April 2003 to December 2004), from national monthly primary care access survey.

Results: The percentage of practices achieving the target waiting time of less than 48 hours to see a general practitioner increased from 67% to 87% over the 21 month study period (adjusted odds ratio 1.07 (95% confidence interval 1.06 to 1.08) per increase in month). Achievement of the waiting time target decreased with increasing multiple deprivation (0.57 (0.49 to 0.67) for most versus least deprived third) and increased with increasing practice population size (1.02 (1.00 to 1.04) per 1000 increase). No evidence was found that increasing distance from a walk-in centre was associated with decreasing odds of achieving the waiting time target (1.00 (0.99 to 1.01) per km increase). Increasing "exposure" to a walk-in centre, modelled with a distance decay function based on attendance rates, also showed little evidence of association with achievement of the waiting time target (1.02 (0.97 to 1.08) for interquartile range increase). No evidence existed that the rate of increase in achieving the 48 hour target over time was enhanced by proximity or "exposure" to a walk-in centre.

Results: were similar when the analysis was rerun with data for 2003 only (done because pressure in 2004 to meet the government's deadline might have led to other changes that could have masked any walk-in centre effect).

Conclusions: No evidence existed that walk-in centres shortened waiting times for access to primary care, and the results do not support the use of walk-in centres for this purpose.

Item Type: Article
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Sheffield) > School of Health and Related Research (Sheffield) > Section of Public Health (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Sheffield) > School of Health and Related Research (Sheffield) > Health Services Research (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Sheffield) > School of Health and Related Research (Sheffield) > Institute of General Practice & Primary Care (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2008 19:13
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2008 19:13
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39122.704051.55
Status: Published
Publisher: BMJ Publishing
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1136/bmj.39122.704051.55
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4818

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