Managing same day appointments: A qualitative study in Australian general practice

Belinda Garth, Meredith Temple-Smith, Malcolm Clark, Cathy Hutton, Elizabeth Deveny, Ruby Biezen, Marie Pirotta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background General practices are required to have flexible systems to accommodate urgent appointments. Not all patients requesting a same day appointment receive one. There is scant research detailing how requests for same day appointments are managed. Our study examined this issue from the perspective of practice staff. Methods Twenty practice staff (receptionists, practice managers, general practitioners, practice nurse) from 10 general practices participated in semistructured interviews, which were audiorecorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. Results All but three practices set aside appointments for patients requesting a same day appointment. Themes included contradictions between policy and practice and the role of experience in determining urgency. Five types of urgent needs for same day appointments were identified: medical, administrative, therapeutic, logistic and emotional. Discussion Practice policies must make clear roles and responsibilities for all staff managing patient appointments. Aspects of clinic policies and practices could be reviewed to reduce medicolegal risk and additional workload caused by non-medically urgent needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-243
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Family Physician
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Appointments and scheduling
  • General practice
  • Health service needs and demands
  • Medical receptionists

Cite this