Research Article

Use of deputising services and night visit rates in general practice.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 289 doi: (Published 25 August 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;289:474
  1. M G Sheldon,
  2. S J Harris


    Examining all of the claim forms for night visits submitted to the Nottingham Family Practitioner Committee over a three month period allowed us to calculate the night visit rate for all 184 practices in Nottinghamshire. To take all of the practices together the mean night visit rate (covering all visits requested and made between 11 00 pm and 7 00 am) was 15.5 visits per 1000 patients a year, range 1.2 to 46.1. Whether or not a deputising service is used accounted for 12% of the total variance detected, while the other factors studied, such as area of practice, patient list size, and number of partners, accounted for approximately 1% each. The local deputising service responds to 97% of night calls with a visit to the patient, whereas the patient's own doctor is more likely to provide advice over the telephone. The ability to provide telephone advice, however, will vary according to the breakdown of the practice by age and social class.