Objectives: Recent policy emphasizing the role of primary care has increased the workload of general practitioners (GPs) while simultaneously placing nurse practitioners (NPs) as key providers in the delivery of health care. There is need to examine the latter's work practices. The purpose of this article is to explore the role and practice of NPs in general practice.
Design: Thirty-six semi-structured interviews with GPs, NPs, receptionists and patients were analysed.
Setting: Four general practices in south-east England.
Main outcome measures: Data from semi-structured interviews relating to allocation, prescribing and referral practices of NPs in primary care.
Results: These include the differences in presenting problems of patients seen by GPs and NPs, prescribing and referral practice and legal issues of the nurse practitioner. A wide range of practice is reported.
Conclusion: This study highlights the variation in how patients are allocated for NP consultation and in NP autonomy, prescribing and referral, which raises issues for clinical governance of protocols and risk management.