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Patients admitted to hospital by a defined group of general practitioners under their own care differ in age, diagnostic category, perceived needs, use of services and outcome, from those admitted by the same general practitioners to consultant beds. However, problems of methodology have to be kept in mind when interpreting the results.
These findings suggest that general practitioners see consultant and general-practitioner care as having different attributes but only broadly indicate the nature of these. This study has not attempted to answer the question of outcome: What are the needs of the patient which can be most satisfactorily met by different forms of care—consultant care, general-practitioner care in hospital, and general-practitioner care at home?
The next stage must be the development of both a more valid measure of a wide range of needs, and controlled trials of care into the effects of different forms and place of care on patients with differing types of needs.