General practitioners use of hospital and community based paediatric out-patient services in Nottingham

Public Health. 1997 Mar;111(2):97-100. doi: 10.1016/s0033-3506(97)90009-3.


The paper compares and contrasts the referral patterns of general practitioners in Nottingham for paediatric specialist opinion in a hospital and community setting. Data were collected from case notes review and medical activity data returns on 100 consecutive referrals made by GPs to a hospital paediatric consultant out-patient clinical and 100 consecutive referrals to a community based consultant clinic. Multiple diagnoses are more commonly made and recorded by community based paediatricians with a bias towards behavioural, nutrition, growth and neurodevelopmental problems. Hospital clinic staff made more system and disease based diagnoses with more investigations arranged than the community staff [53 cf. 15 (OR 6.39, 95% CI; 3.25-12.55, P = < 0.0001)]. More children under five were seen in the community clinic sample compared to the hospital sample [75 cf. 57 under fives (OR 2.26, 95% CI; 1.24-4.13, P = 0.01)]. Patients are more likely to be discharged from the hospital clinic than the community clinic after the initial visit. [59 cf. 33 (OR 2.92, 95% CI; 1.64-5.20, P = 0.0004)]. Costs per new case consultation were substantially less in the community clinic than the hospital setting. A broadly similar range of clinic problems are referred to both hospital and community based paediatricians in Nottingham. The educational and liaison value of local community paediatric clinics together with relatively easier access by parents and lower per case costs is an advantage. Commissioners of paediatric and child health services need to take into consideration these factors when purchasing out-patient specialist paediatric opinion. Further research is required into the quality and desirability of these developments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Community Health Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • England
  • Family Practice*
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Humans
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Pediatrics*
  • Referral and Consultation*