What do other local providers think of NHS walk-in centres? Results of a postal survey
Pope C., Chalder M., Moore L., Salisbury C.
Objectives. To ascertain the views of other providers of primary and emergency healthcare services about their local walk-in centre. Design. Postal survey. Setting and participants. National Health Service healthcare providers (general practitioners (GPs), practice nurses, pharmacists, Accident and Emergency (A and E) consultants) working in close proximity to 20 English walk-in centres. Results. The overall response rate to the survey was 79% (n=1591). Nearly one-third of respondents felt that patient expectations had increased since their local walk-in centre opened, although this varied across the different sites. Some providers had noticed a reduction in their workload, but 15% claimed that workloads had increased since their local walk-in centre opened. There was broad agreement that these new centres did address issues of access and that they provided appropriate care of a reasonable quality. Communication between walk-in centres and other local healthcare providers was an area of considerable concern; GPs, in particular, were anxious about the impact of the service on continuity of care. There were clear differences of opinion between different types of health professional, with doctors tending to be more critical and practice nurses being more supportive. Conclusion. It has been suggested that healthcare professionals, notably GPs, are universally opposed to the concept of walk-in centres. This survey shows that opinions were divided, but overall, more local providers were in favour of this new service than were opposed to it. There was more support for centres co-located with A and E departments than 'shop-front'-type facilities, but there were concerns that the service offered was too limited. The success or otherwise of the walk-in centre initiative will depend, in part, on building good relationships between the centres and other local providers. Understanding the views of local providers is important for those developing walk-in centres, and for those engaged in planning services in the wider health economies where these services are placed. © 2004 The Royal Institute of Public Health. Published by Elservier Ltd. All rights reserved.