Intended for healthcare professionals


Overnight calls in primary care: randomised controlled trial of management using nurse telephone consultation

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 27 November 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1408
  1. Felicity Thompson, researchera,
  2. Steve George, director (,
  3. Val Lattimer, MRC fellowa,
  4. Helen Smith, senior lecturerb,
  5. Michael Moore, general practitionerb,
  6. Joanne Turnbull, data managerc,
  7. Mark Mullee, senior research fellowc,
  8. Eileen Thomas, reader in health studiesd,
  9. Hugh Bond, general practitionerb,
  10. Alan Glasper, professore
  1. a Health Care Research Unit, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD
  2. b Academic Department of Primary Medical Care, Aldemoor Health Centre, Southampton SO9 5NH
  3. c University Department of Medical Statistics, Southampton General Hospital
  4. d School of Postgraduate Medicine, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, PO6 3LY
  5. e School of Nursing, Southampton SO17 1BJ
  1. Correspondence to: Dr George
  • Accepted 29 July 1999

We recently published the results of a randomised controlled trial of a nurse telephone consultation service in primary care out of hours.1 The new service, operating at evenings and weekends, significantly reduced general practitioners' workload and was at least as safe as the existing out of hours service. Contacts diminish sharply after about 10 pm,2 and, anecdotally, a higher proportion of night calls necessitate consultation with a general practitioner. We report here a parallel trial aimed at establishing whether nurse telephone consultation was equally effective in managing workload at night.

Subjects, methods, and results

This study was an adjunct to a randomised controlled trial in a 55 member general practice cooperative serving 97 000 patients in Wiltshire. The design has been described.1 The night nurse telephone consultation service ran over two two-week periods (15-28 October 1997 and 12-25 November 1997) from 11.15 pm until 8 am. Outcome measures were as used in …

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