What does GP out of hours care cost? An analysis of different models of out of hours care in Scotland

Anthony Scott, S. Simoens, C. A. O'Donnell, S. Ross, N. Drummon, David James Heaney, H. Thomson, K. J. Moffat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The changes to out of hours care provided by General Practitioners have led to wide variation in the types and costs of out of hours care across the country. Aim To examine the costs of different models of service delivery for GP out of hours organisations. Methods: This was a prospective cross-sectional survey of eight GP out of hours organisations and samples of their patients. A deputising service, rotas, and various types of GP co-operative across Scotland were surveyed. Information on the quantities of resources used by each organisation was combined with unit costs, Costs incurred by patients mid other NHS costs subsequent to the out of hours contact were also calculated Results: Annual costs incurred by the GP out of hours organisation per 1,000 population ranged from pound2,916 to pound12,120. There was no relationship between costs and type and size of organisation. There was a three-fold variation in total costs per our of hours contact (pound15 to pound51). Costs per phone contact were lowest (pound6 to pound11), followed by cost per centre contact (pound10 to pound16) and cost per home contact (pound21 to pound60), Total costs per episode ranged from pound78 to pound136 for centre contacts, from pound130 to pound303 for home contacts, and from pound70 to pound553 for telephone contacts. Home contacts had the highest average cost per episode (pound212), followed by telephone contacts (pound117) and centre contacts (pound85), Conclusions: There are wide variations in the costs of operating GP out of hours services. It is likely that the context in which organisations were set up and local geography influence variations in costs, as well as the level of GP cover.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages5
JournalScottish Medical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • costs
  • primary care
  • out of hours
  • organisation of care


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