Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Audit in general practice by a receptionist: a feasibility study.

British Medical Journal 1991; 302 doi: (Published 09 March 1991) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1991;302:573
  1. B Essex,
  2. J Bate
  1. Sydenham Green Health Centre, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To examine whether audit can be done cost effectively by a practice's receptionist. DESIGN--The practice set goals for various aspects of care, and forms were devised for the receptionist to collect, analyse, and present data to assess whether these goals had been achieved in the previous year. SETTING--Six doctor practice in south London looking after 11,500 patients. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Ability of receptionist to present data showing the level of attainment of the practice's goals; time spent on audit by receptionist each week. RESULTS--The practice set goals for immunisation; follow up of patients with abnormal cervical smears; frequency of recording of blood pressure and smoking habit; screening of patients over 75; care of diabetic patients and patients with serious mental illness; antenatal care; variations in workload; and availability of appointments. The receptionist was able to audit all these tasks in four hours a week; this increased her job satisfaction and extended her skills. A small amount of regular supervision was necessary--roughly 30 minutes a week in the first year of the study and 30 minutes a fortnight in the second--to ensure accuracy and deal with any difficulties that arose. CONCLUSION--The method developed enabled a receptionist to audit aspects of the practice cost effectively. There is great scope for enlarging the conventional role of the receptionist.