Effect of NHS walk-in centre on local primary healthcare services: before and after observational study.
Hsu RT., Lambert PC., Dixon-Woods M., Kurinczuk JJ.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of an NHS walk-in centre on local primary and emergency healthcare services. DESIGN: Before and after observational study. SETTING: Loughborough, which had an NHS walk-in centre, and Market Harborough, the control town. PARTICIPANTS: 12 general practices. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Mean daily rate of emergency general practitioner consultations, mean number of half days to the sixth bookable routine appointment, and attendance rates at out of hours services, minor injuries units, and accident and emergency departments. RESULTS: The change between the before and after study periods was not significantly different in the two towns for daily rate of emergency general practice consultations (mean difference -0.02/1000 population, 95% confidence interval -0.75 to 0.71), the time to the sixth bookable routine appointment (-0.24 half-days, -1.85 to 1.37), and daily rate of attendances at out of hours services (0.07/1000 population, -0.06 to 0.19). However, attendance at the local minor injuries unit was significantly higher in Loughborough than Market Harborough (rate ratio 1.22, 1.12 to 1.33). Non-ambulance attendances at accident and emergency departments fell less in Loughborough than Market Harborough (rate ratio 1.17, 1.03 to 1.33). CONCLUSIONS: The NHS walk-in centre did not greatly affect the workload of local general practitioners. However, the workload of the local minor injuries unit increased significantly, probably because it was in the same building as the walk-in centre.