The management of acute illness

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Part of Inquiry into the quality of general practice in England

The assessment, differentiation and treatment of minor and potentially serious acute conditions are core skills of general practice. Up to two-thirds of primary care contacts are with patients who have acute problems. These consultations draw on wide-ranging expertise from diagnosis and judicious prescribing, to communication and case management.

Related document: Managing acute illness

What did we explore?

To inform its work, the Inquiry panel commissioned a research project to examine what good-quality acute care in general practice looks like, and how it can be measured. Managing acute illness provides a framework for assessing the quality of the different types of acute care in general practice. The paper is written by a team from the Department of General Practice and Primary Care, King's College London: Professor Roger Jones, Professor David Armstrong, Patrick White, Mark Ashworth and Marilyn Peters.

What have we learnt about general practice and acute illness?

In March 2010 the Inquiry held a seminar on the management of acute illness with participants including GPs, practice nurses, NHS executives, health academics and patient representatives.

Key issues raised in discussion include:

  • Does a regular clinical audit or significant events analysis by a general practice improve the quality of acute care?
  • Should the location in which the acute care takes place be a marker of quality, given the national agenda of care closer to home?
  • Are there ways to use routinely collected primary care data to measure the quality of acute illness management?

What's your view?

During the inquiry, we asked for your opinions on this care dimension. You can read the comments submitted below.

Related content


Kerrion Powell

student nurse,
University of Greenwich
Comment date
10 August 2011
The management of acute illness is important in general practice, as it seeks to deliver quality care for the patient. The work commissioned has highlighted key issues, which helps professional to identify quality care in the acutely ill patients.furthermore, this area of care "Acute Illness" must be looked at as a priority within the healthcare settings. I personally believe this debate was well discussed and is an interest in helping me to put together my transition and in addition my final assignment. i would be grateful for any further information or details on this particular subject.