Research Article

Secondary care beyond Tomlinson: an opportunity to be seized or squandered?

BMJ 1992; 305 doi: (Published 14 November 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;305:1211
  1. F. Moss,
  2. M. McNicol
  1. Central Middlesex Hospital, NHS Trust, London.


    The Tomlinson report's emphasis on primary care and its essentially quantitative analysis of hospital care in London leaves little space for a picture of how secondary care for Londoners should look. In this article Fiona Moss and Martin McNicol argue that most outpatient work does not need to be done in hospitals. With proper organisation and better premises a genuinely specialist consultative service can be provided in primary health care centres, with benefit to patients and communication between primary and secondary care doctors. Hospitals would then house those outpatient services that needed major investigative facilities and much reduced inpatient capacity. It may no longer be necessary for each acute unit to offer a full range of services. Such a pattern of secondary care will have implications for the organisation of accident and emergency services and for postgraduate training. Above all Moss and McNicol argue that Tomlinson's recommendations demand that general practitioners and specialists should re-examine the services hospitals provide and agree on the best settings for different sorts of health care and the most appropriate skills to provide it.