Good communication at the accident and emergency (A&E)-general practice interface is important. Such communication will be affected by the attitudes of A&E staff towards local general practitioners (GPs). The objectives of this study were to establish and compare, using a questionnaire, the attitudes of Dublin A&E doctors and nurses towards the services offered by local GPs. A questionnaire was sent to all nurses and non-consultant doctors working in four of the six Dublin A&E departments. Completed questionnaires were received from 57 (61%) nurses and 35 (81%) doctors. Only two activities (being accessible to patients during normal surgery hours and providing family planning services) were rated by more than one-fifth of doctors and nurses as being performed 'well'. Six activities (being accessible to patients outside surgery hours, providing long-term care for the chronically ill and debilitated, providing appropriate care for 'difficult' patients, advising patients about the appropriate use of services and performing first aid) were rated by more than 40% of both doctors and nurses as being performed 'badly'. For all activities the nurses consistently rated the performance of the 'average GP' more critically than the doctors. These results must be interpreted cautiously. The implications of these findings and how best they can be addressed are discussed.
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