NHS walk-in centres do not cut GP waiting times
There is no evidence that walk-in centres shorten waiting times to see a general practitioner, say researchers in a BMJ study published online.
NHS walk-in centres are primarily nurse-led, have wide opening hours and provide information and treatment for minor conditions without the need for appointments. One of their aims is to relieve the pressure on access to primary care by freeing up time during normal practice surgery hours for patients who need to see their general practitioner.
There are concerns that they increase demand rather than reduce the workload for primary care, but the evidence to date is inconclusive.
The study took place from April 2003 to December 2004 and involved 2,509 general practices in 56 primary care trusts in England, and 32 walk-in centres within 3km of at least one of these practices. Data collection included distance from a practice to the nearest walk-in centre.
There was a clear increase in the percentage of practices achieving the target waiting time of less than 48 hours to see a