Intended for healthcare professionals


NHS walk-in centres

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 19 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:808
  1. Chris Salisbury, professor of primary health care (
  1. University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2AA

    Do not have a meaningful impact on the demand for general practice

    National Health Service walk-in centres were introduced in England in 2000. They are primarily led by nurses, have long opening hours, and provide advice and treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. NHS walk-in centres are intended to improve access to primary care and to reduce pressure on other providers of health care, such as general practices.1 A paper in this week's BMJ by Maheswaran and colleagues looks at whether they have achieved this second aim.2

    Maheswaran and colleagues conducted an ecological study to determine whether proximity to a walk-in centre was associated with general practices meeting the NHS access target to offer an appointment within 48 hours. Using a series of sophisticated models, they found no evidence that walk-in centres led to shorter waits in general practice.2 This is consistent with several earlier studies, which found no impact of walk-in centres on consultation rates at other healthcare providers.3 4 5

    The underlying hypothesis …

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