General Practice

Out of hours service in Denmark: evaluation five years after reform

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7143.1502 (Published 16 May 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1502
  1. Morten Bondo Christensen, research assistant (MBC{at}alm.aau.dk),
  2. Frede Olesen, professor
  1. Research Unit for General Practice, University of Aarhus, 2 DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Bondo Christensen
  • Accepted 12 February 1998

Abstract

Objective: Five years after its introduction, to evaluate the 1992 reform in the out of hours service in Denmark.

Design: Comparison of data before and after reform. Data were collected from published reports, Danish national health statistics, and the Danish trade union for general practitioners.

Setting: Denmark.

Main outcome measures: Number of out of hours services; workload of general practitioners; cost of the service; patient satisfaction.

Results: Five years after the reform, the percentage of telephone consultations had almost doubled, to 48%. Consultations in doctors' surgeries were relatively unchanged, but home visits were much reduced, to 18%. The percentage of doctors who worked 5 hours or more out of hours per week dropped from about 70% to about 50%. Overall patient satisfaction in 1995 was high (72%).

Conclusion: The organisation of the out of hours service, with a fully trained general practitioner in a telephone triage function, is working satisfactorily. Many calls that previously would have required home visits are now dealt with by telephone or through consultations. The out of hours workload for general practitioners has decreased considerably.

Key messages

  • The out of hours reform in Denmark has resulted in an organisation with a fully trained general practitioner performing the telephone triage function

  • Hours on call for general practitioners have decreased consideraby

  • Home visits have largely been replaced by telephone consultations

  • Patient satisfaction has declined slightly

Footnotes

    • Accepted 12 February 1998
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