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General Practice

Nurse telephone triage in out of hours primary care: a pilot study

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 18 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:198


The “crisis” in out of hours primary care1 2 and availability of new development funding3 have prompted new service arrangements, primarily general practice cooperatives and primary care emergency centres. Nurse telephone triage is an adjunct to cooperatives and primary care emergency centres in which trained nurses receive, assess, and manage calls by giving advice or by referral to the general practitioner or ambulance service.4 These services are established elsewhere but are an innovation in the United Kingdom. This paper reports a pilot study of a United Kingdom based nurse telephone triage service.

Subjects, methods, and results

The pilot was run in two practices in Salisbury (combined practice population 10 000) as 18 four hour sessions–14 in the evenings and four at weekends. Incoming calls to the practice were diverted to an experienced practice nurse, who was aided by the Telephone Advice System, a computer based primary care call management system.5 A printed summary of each assessment provided by the Telephone …

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