Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Patients either contacting a general practice cooperative or accident and emergency department out of hours: a comparison


Introduction: Lack of collaboration between general practice (GP) cooperatives and accident and emergency (A&E) departments and many self referrals may lead to inefficient out-of-hours care.

Methods: We retrospectively analysed the records of all patients contacting the GP cooperative and all patients self referring to the A&E department out of hours in a region in the Netherlands.

Results: 258 patients contacted the GP cooperative and 43 self referred to the A&E department per 1000 patients per year. A wide range of problems were seen in the GP cooperative, mainly related to infections (26.2%). The A&E department had a smaller range of problems, mainly related to trauma (66.1%). Relatively few urgent problems were seen in the GP cooperative (4.6%) or for self referrals in the A&E department (6.1%). Women, children, the elderly, and rural patients chose the GP cooperative significantly more often, as did men and patients with less urgent complaints, infections, and heart and airway problems.

Discussion: The contact frequency of self referrals to the A&E department is much lower than that at the GP cooperative. Care is complementary: the A&E department focuses on trauma while the GP cooperative deals with a wide range of problems. The self referrals concern mostly minor, non-urgent problems and can generally be treated by the general practitioner, by a nurse, or by advice over the telephone, particularly in the case of optimal collaboration in an integrated care facility of GP cooperatives and A&E departments with one access point to medical care for all patients.

  • A&E, accident and emergency
  • GP, general practice
  • ICPC, International Classification of Primary Care
  • A&E department
  • GP cooperative
  • out-of-hours care
  • self referral

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.