One hundred and forty-three Accident and Emergency nurses working in six departments in contrasting districts of England completed questionnaires about their perception of local general practice. Much of general practice was perceived as being performed unsatisfactorily. Out-of-hours accessibility, caring for patients with 'difficult' or psychosocial problems, advising on health service usage, and minor surgery and first aid were all thought to be performed particularly badly. In addition, there was considerable inter-district variation with the views expressed in inner London being especially negative. To some extent these views may reflect real short-comings in general practice, but they are likely to be coloured by the disproportionate experience A&E departments inevitably have of patients who are dissatisfied in some way with their GP service. In addition, other factors such as departmental 'culture' and the separation that exists between hospital and community health professionals may have an important influence. The effect such negative perceptions have on the relationship between A&E departments and general practitioners, and the quality of care provided to patients attending A&W with primary care problems are discussed.
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