Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice Observed

Patients' assessment of out of hours care in general practice

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 19 March 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:829
  1. Mary J Bollam,
  2. Mark McCarthy,
  3. Michael Modell


    A sample of 177 patients drawn from 13 north London practices were interviewed shortly after they had sought help from their practice outside normal surgery hours. Patients were asked to describe the process and outcome of their out of hours call, to comment on specific aspects of the consultation, and to access their overall satisfaction with the encounter.

    Parents seeking consultations for children were least satisfied with the consultation; those aged over 60 responded most positively. Visits from general practitioners were more acceptable than visits from deputising doctors for patients aged under 60, but for patients aged over 60 visits from general practitioners and deputising doctors were equally acceptable.

    Monitoring of patients' views of out of hours consultations is feasible, and the findings of this study suggest that practices should regularly review the organisation of their out of hours care and discuss strategies for minimising conflict in out of hours calls—particularly those concerning children.