Demand on hospital emergency departments for paediatric problems is increasing. However, the volume and nature of paediatric health demands placed on other parts of the urgent care system have not been explored. This understanding is an important first step in developing and improving out-of-hospital care. We aimed to describe the volume, nature, and outcomes of paediatric contacts with out-of-hours general practice (OOH GP). We performed a retrospective service evaluation using data from 12 months of paediatric patient contacts with the Oxfordshire OOH GP service.
A database of contacts with the Oxfordshire OOH GP service was created for a 12 month period from December 2014 to November 2015. Descriptive statistics were calculated using SPSS Version 25.
27,455 contacts were made by 18,987 individuals during a 12 month period. The majority of these were for children aged under 5. Over 70% of contacts were at the weekend. The peak contact period was between 18:30 and 21:30. Over 40% of contacts resulted in advice only (no onward referral, requirement for GP follow up, or prescription). 19.7% of contacts resulted in an antibiotic prescription, most commonly those linked with ear, chest, and throat infections.
Paediatric contacts with the Oxfordshire OOH GP service were predominantly in younger age groups and in the evening, with 19.7% resulting in an antibiotic prescription. Almost half of the contacts had no follow up or prescription, suggesting non-prescribing health care professionals could be involved in providing care in OOH GP. Further research should consider how children and their parents can be best supported to optimise OOH consulting.