Background: GP led walk-in centres were established in the UK in 2009. Around 150 such clinics were initially planned to open. Their purpose is to provide a primary health care service to complement the urgent care services provided by Emergency Departments (ED), to reduce unnecessary patient attendance at ED, and to increase accessibility of health care services. The objectives of this study were to determine patient satisfaction and experiences with GP led walk-in centres in the UK.
Methods: A survey was conducted in two GP led walk-in centres in the North of England over three weeks during September and October 2011. A self reported, validated questionnaire was used to survey patients presenting at these centres. A short post visit questionnaire was also sent to those who agreed. Ethical approval for the study was obtained from an NHS ethical review committee.
Results: Based on a sample of 1030 survey participants (Centre A = 501; Centre B = 529), we found that 93% of patients were either highly or fairly satisfied with the service at centre A and 86% at centre B. The difference between centres was due to the longer reported waiting times which were seen in centre B. There was no difference in satisfaction between first time users and repeat users (P value = 0.8). Roughly 50% (n = 507) of patients reported that their reason for using the walk-in centre was having GP access without an appointment, and 9% (n = 87) reported that their GP surgery was closed. A further 20% of patients (n = 205) reported that they were not able to see their own GP because of their working hours.In the post visit survey (n = 258), nearly all patients reported complying with the advice given (around 90% at both study centres), and most of the patients (86%) reported their problem had resolved a few days later. In addition, 56% of patients at centre B and 58% at centre A reported that they had also visited another NHS service for the same problem, mostly their own GP (66%).
Conclusions: The GP led walk-in centres increased access to GP care and most of the patients were satisfied with the service.