Being able to see the GP of your choice in a doctor's surgery may help to reduce emergency hospital admissions, the results of a new study indicate.
Many GPs in Ireland work in practices with more than one doctor available. This UK research set out to identify whether any characteristics of general practices could be associated with emergency hospital admission rates.
The study involved 145 general practices. Hospital admission data was also used to calculate the rate of emergency admissions for two consecutive years (2006/07 and 2007/08). The team studied the impact of practice characteristics and patient characteristics on admission rates.
"We found that practice characteristics, like being a shorter distance from hospital, and patient characteristics such as a higher proportion of older people, increasing deprivation and female gender, were associated with higher admission rates," the researchers from the University of Leicester said.
However, they also noted that while there was no association with measures of clinical or organisational performance, there was an association between patients reporting being able to see a particular GP and emergency admission rates.
"As the proportion of patients able to consult a particular GP increased, emergency admission rates declined...Being able to consult a particular GP, an aspect of continuity, is associated with lower emergency admission rates," they concluded.
The team said that the findings are important because small changes in admission rates ‘have substantial economic consequences and they point to potential interventions to reduce emergency admission rates'.
Details of these findings are published in the Emergency Medical Journal.