Introduction The demand for urgent care is increasing, and the pressure on emergency departments is of significant concern. General practitioner (GP)-led urgent care centres are a new model of care developed to divert patients to more appropriate primary care environments. This study explores why patients with minor illness choose to attend an urban urgent care centre for their healthcare needs.
Methods A self-completed questionnaire among patients aged 18 years or over (N=649) who were triaged with a ‘minor illness’ on arrival to an urgent care centre, colocated with an emergency department in London.
Results Median participant age was 29 years. 58% (649/1112) of patients attending the centre with minor illness during the study period took part. 72% participants were registered with a GP; more women (59%) attended than men; and the majority of participants rated themselves as healthy (81%). Access to care (58%) was a key reason for using the service as was expectation of receiving prescription medication (69%). GP dissatisfaction influenced 10% of participants in their decision to attend. 68% did not contact their GP in the previous 24 h before attending.
Conclusions We found that the GP-led urgent care centre was similar to walk in centres in attracting healthy young adults, who were mostly registered with a GP and used services because of convenience and ease of access rather than satisfaction levels with their GP. This group may benefit from being seen as part of routine general practice care to provide opportunities for education and promotion of self-management.
- primary care
- emergency department