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BACKGROUND: NHS Walk-in Centres have been introduced to improve access to healthcare in the UK. Little is understood about why people choose Walk-in Centres from among the range of options available to them. OBJECTIVES: To explore users' accounts of choosing and using an NHS Walk-in Centre. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews with 23 users who had recently attended an NHS Walk-in Centre were conducted. Analysis was based on the constant comparative method. RESULTS: Participants' accounts revealed two types of service use: those who knew what was wrong with them and had a clear idea of what treatment was required, and those seeking professional advice. Users reported "solidarity" with the NHS and other NHS users, and were highly sensitive to the demands on both Accident and Emergency and GP services in their choice of services. The Walk-in Centre appeared to function as a means of overcoming the barriers to healthcare associated with other healthcare services, although there was some lack of clarity about the purpose of the Walk-in Centre. CONCLUSIONS: Users' accounts suggest that NHS Walk-in Centres improve access to healthcare by opening up an alternative means of seeking a professional opinion or treatment. It is especially important in allowing people to use the NHS without feeling that they are increasing the burden on general practice and A&E facilities, and to feel that they are behaving responsibly while still meeting their own needs.

Original publication




Journal article


Fam Pract

Publication Date





269 - 274


Adult, Aged, Choice Behavior, Community Health Centers, Female, Health Services Accessibility, Humans, Interviews as Topic, Male, Middle Aged, Morbidity, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, Qualitative Research, State Medicine, United Kingdom