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What aspects of primary care predict emergency admission rates? A cross sectional study

Stephen Gunther1*, Nick Taub2, Stephen Rogers1 and Richard Baker2

Author affiliations

1 Public Health Department, NHS Northamptonshire, Northampton, UK

2 Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:11  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-11

Published: 7 January 2013



From 2004 to 2009 there was almost a 12% rise in emergency admissions in England. This can be explained partly by an aging population and other socio-demographic characteristics, but much cannot be explained by these factors. We explored aspects of care, in addition to known demographic characteristics in general practice, that are associated with emergency admissions.


A cross-sectional design employing hospital admission data from 76 general practices in Northamptonshire, England for 2006–08, including demographic data, quality and outcomes framework points and GP patient survey outcomes.


There were statistically significant associations between emergency admissions and age, gender, distance from hospital and proportion classified as white. There was also a statistically significant relationship between emergency admissions and being able to book an appointment with a preferred doctor; this relationship was stronger in less deprived communities.


Enabling patients to book with a preferred doctor, particularly those in less deprived communities could have an impact on reducing emergency admissions. It is possible that being able to consult a preferred GP gives patient’s confidence to avoid an emergency admission or it facilitates consistent clinical management that helps prevent the need for admission. However the findings only explained some of the variation.

Emergency admissions; Primary care; Access; Preferred doctor; Deprivation