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Background: Primary care workload is high and increasing in the United Kingdom. We sought to examine the association between rates of primary care consultation and outcomes in England. Methods: Cross sectional observational study of routine electronic health care records in 283 practices from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink from April 2013 to March 2014. Outcomes included mortality rate, hospital admission rate, Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) performance and patient satisfaction. Relationships between consultation rates (with a general practitioner (GP) or nurse) and outcomes were investigated using negative binomial and ordinal logistic regression models. Results: Rates of GP and nurse consultation (per patient person-year) were not associated with mortality or hospital admission rates: mortality incidence rate ratio (IRR) per unit change in GP/ nurse consultation rate = 1.01, 95% CI [0.98 to 1.04]/ 0.97, 95% CI [0.93 to 1.02]; hospital admission IRR per unit change in GP/ nurse consultation rate = 1.02, 95% CI [0.99 to 1.04]/ 0.98, 95% CI [0.94 to 1.032]. Higher rates of nurse but not GP consultation were associated with higher QOF achievement: OR = 1.91, 95% CI [1.39 to 2.62] per unit change in nurse consultation rate vs. OR = 1.04, 95% CI [0.87 to 1.24] per unit change in GP consultation rate. The association between the rates of GP/ nurse consultations and patient satisfaction was mixed. Conclusion: There are few associations between primary care consultation rates and outcomes. Previously identified demographic and staffing factors, rather than practice workload, appear to have the strongest relationships with mortality, admissions, performance and satisfaction. Studies with more detailed patient-level data would be required to explore these findings further.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Health Services Research

Publication Date