GP views of nurse-led telephone referral for paediatric assessment
Following the introduction of a new nurse-led telephone referral service to a dedicated paediatric emergency assessment unit (PEAU), a study was conducted to determine the views of general practitioners (GPs) who use the service. The PEAU operates between 10 am and 10 pm on weekdays and between 10 am and 6 pm at weekends. The unit has four beds and treatment and stabilization areas, plus associated services in a dedicated area of a regional child health unit. The design utilized a faxed questionnaire over a 1-month period to all consenting GPs using the PEAU with a postal questionnaire follow-up. Non-parametric Likert scores and qualitative data were used to determine levels of satisfaction with the service and the subsequent management of the referred children. Sixty-nine GPs referred 80 children to the PEAU via the service over a period of 1 month. All consented to participate and were sent a faxed questionnaire, which generated 39 (57%) responses. A follow-up questionnaire sent to the 39 respondents achieved a return of 25 (64%) responses. Thirty-four GPs agreed that referral via the dedicated nurse service was easier than the previous senior house officer referral system. Of the 25 GP respondents to the follow-up postal survey, the majority (17) agreed that the follow-up morning after discharge telephone call to parents by the PEAU nurses was helpful. Four GPs indicated that the 24-hour open access system, offered by the nursing staff, in which a parent may attend PEAU with a discharged child causing concern without a previous appointment, does not always work. This study has shown that a nurse-led telephone referral system to a PEAU for GPs and the subsequent management of the children has been favourably received.
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