Are nurses cheaper than GPs?

DEMAND is increasing for out-of-hours primary care. A Dutch trial has evaluated the effect of using nurse practitioners on weekends.

Researchers studied daytime presentations, comparing weekends when there were five GPs on duty or four GPs and a nurse.

Over 15 months 12,000 patients were seen at weekends, of whom the nurses saw nearly 1000. 

Drugs were prescribed in 43% of GP consults and 37% of nurse consults, and there was no significant difference in X-ray orders.

The adjusted average cost of a nurse consultation was about $5 less than for a GP.