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Minor illness units ‘no alternative to GPs’

By Lilian Anekwe

Minor illness units do not reduce demand on general practice or A&E, an audit by primary care researchers has found.

Researchers studied use of health services in the week after 1,995 patients attended two minor injury units in Sunderland.

Overall 42% required further care in that seven days - mostly from their GPs. Twenty-two per cent of the total when on to see their GPs, 2% went to A&E and just over 1% reattended the minor injuries unit.

The study was published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice and study leader Professor Greg Rubin, a GP in Sunderland and professor of general practice at the University of Durham said: ‘The MIUs in this study were intended both to reduce demand on traditional emergency department services and to provide an alternative to general practice for minor illness [and] in this respect their effectiveness was incomplete..

‘This calls into question their effectiveness as an alternative to general practice, particularly in the current NHS funding climate.'

Minor illness units 'no alternative to GPs'