Factors affecting the changing role of GP clinicians in community hospitals: a qualitative interview study in England

David Seamark, Deborah Davidson, Angela Ellis Paine, Jon Glasby, Helen Tucker

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Background: GPs were a key driving force for the development of a network of community hospitals across England, and have provided medical cover for most of them. However, during the past decade there has been a significant shift, with the dominant trend appearing to be one of declining GP involvement.

Aim: To explore how and why the role of GPs within community hospitals in England is changing.

Design and setting: Qualitative study in a sample of nine diverse community hospitals in England.

Method: Qualitative interviews with community hospital clinical staff.

Results: In all, 20 interviews were conducted and two models of medical care observed: GPs employed by a practice and trust-employed doctors. Interviewees confirmed the trend towards declining GP involvement, with the factors driving change identified as being GP workload and recruitment challenges, a change from ‘step-up’ admissions from the community to ‘step-down’ admissions from acute hospitals, fewer local patients being admitted, increased medical acuity of patients admitted, increased burden of medical support required, and inadequate remuneration. The majority of doctors viewed community hospital work in a positive light, welcoming the opportunities for personal development and to acquire new clinical skills. GPs viewed community hospital work as an extension of primary care, adding to job satisfaction.

Conclusion: Multiple factors have driven changes in the role of GP community hospital clinicians. The NHS needs to develop a focused strategy if GPs are to remain engaged with community hospital work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e329-e335
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number682
Early online date25 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

© British Journal of General Practice 2019.


  • community hospital
  • general practice
  • intermediate care
  • primary care
  • qualitative research
  • Qualitative research
  • Community hospital
  • General practice
  • Intermediate care
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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