Introduction Adolescence is a time of increasing health and peak fitness, as well as increasing health risks. In the UK, primary care is free at the point of access, yet, adolescents aged 10–19 years are the lowest users of primary care services, and disproportionately high users of emergency services. The effect of new general practitioner (GP)-led urgent care centres in meeting the needs of adolescents are unknown.
Methods We used routinely collected data to describe the demographics and attendance pattern among adolescents at two new colocated GP-led urgent care centres at Hammersmith and Charing Cross Hospitals, London. We also compared attendance rates with those observed in routine general practice and emergency departments.
Results Adolescents formed 6.5% (N=14 038) of total urgent care attendances. 13.2% (95% CI 12.9% to 14.1%) was recorded as not being registered with a GP. Commonest reasons for attendance were musculoskeletal conditions and injuries (30.2%), respiratory tract infections (12.5%) and limb fractures (5.1%). Adolescents aged 15–19 years were more likely to attend the centres (30.6 vs 23.4, per 100, p<0.0001) than routine general practice. The opposite was true for adolescents aged 10–14 years.
Conclusions Adolescents aged 15–19 years are more likely to attend urgent care centres than general practice. The majority attended for conditions commonly seen in primary care including musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, and respiratory tract infections. Primary care services may need to be more responsive to needs of the older adolescent age, if their use of urgent care centres is to be reduced.
- primary care
- emergency departments
- emergency care systems, primary care