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The role of the general practitioner hospital in inpatient care.

The rationale of the general practitioner hospital continues to be questioned. A study of the services and case-mix of two of the four remaining general practitioner hospitals in Northern Ireland was undertaken to determine whether the nature and cost of inpatient care in these hospitals was comparable to the available alternatives. The case-notes of all non-maternity admissions (n = 509) were reviewed. The two hospitals provide acute medical care for a wide range of patients. The majority of patients appeared to require hospitalisation. It is likely that the beds at the two hospitals were mainly a substitute for district general hospital care. The general practitioner hospitals were estimated to be less costly than alternative forms of care, although it was doubtful whether they fulfilled all the structural criteria of quality generally regarded as important for hospitals of this type.