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Evaluation of walk-in centres published

Press release issued: 4 July 2002

Media release
Evaluation of walk-in centres published

Forty NHS walk-in centres have been established in England since January 2000. These nurse-led centres provide convenient 'drop-in' advice and treatment about health problems, as part of the government's commitment to modernise the NHS.

The first 40 centres were set up as a pilot project and were subject to a comprehensive evaluation conducted by a team from the University of Bristol, led by Consultant Senior Lecturer Dr Chris Salisbury.

The evaluation included a number of linked research studies, studying the experiences of people using walk-in centres, the quality of care provided, the impact on other local health services, and the cost of care.

The results show that the number of people attending walk-in centres is gradually increasing. A high proportion of walk-in centre visitors were young adults, and they tended to be slightly younger and of higher socio-economic status than people attending in general practices in the same area. Most people chose to attend a walk-in centre rather than another health care provider for reasons of convenience and they were very satisfied with the care they received. The quality of care provided by nurses in walk-in centres appeared to be high.

There was some evidence that walk-in centres reduced the pressure on local general practices and Accident and Emergency Departments, but this was not conclusive. The cost of providing care in walk-in centres was higher than if people had attended their general practice instead.

Overall it appears that walk-in centres offer a convenient service of high quality, but at additional cost. This raises questions about balancing priorities between improving the convenience of care for minor illness in a group of people who are generally healthy, compared with improving care for serious illnesses in groups with greater health needs. It will also be important to compare NHS walk-in centres with other ways of increasing the accessibility of primary health care.

The final report from the evaluation is released today, July 4 2002, (see to coincide with two major publications in the British Medical Journal and the British Journal of General Practice.

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Thursday, 04-Jul-2002 11:53:01 BST

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