• general practice;
  • medical receptionist;
  • practice nurse;
  • quality care;
  • unlicensed assistive personnel

The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which receptionists, working in general medical practices, are undertaking clinical tasks traditionally within the domain of nursing. A survey of 164 solo and principal general practitioners (GPs) practising within one division of general practice in south-east Queensland, Australia, yielded 84 responses (55%). The study found that some receptionists, while primarily employed for reception and clerical duties, were performing tasks that involved direct patient assessment, monitoring and therapy. Sixty percent of the GPs did not employ a nurse because of financial constraints and a perceived lack of need. These findings could be illustrative of the current trend in health care to appropriate the work of nurses to lesser-paid workers. Further investigation is indicated in order to determine the most appropriate non-medical staffing mix in general practice to achieve both quality care and financial viability.