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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Researchers 'must pose as patients'

Professor Glyn Elwyn says independent researchers posing as patients must be used by the Government to measure

48-hour access to GPs.

Any other method of monitoring will lead to bias and give inaccurate results, said Professor Elwyn, a GP in Swansea and leader of a primary research group at the Swansea Clinical School. He presented research on GP access to this month's Society for Academic Primary Care conference in Manchester.

'There are two conflicting biases,' he said. 'One bias is window dressing ­ the other says the health service is terrible.

'When you get PCTs ringing up practices, if they introduce themselves as from the PCT and ask for an assurance there are appointments in two days the practice may not give a truthful account. When you ask patients, there is also a potential bias because they may be frustrated.'

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