Although childhood psychiatric disorders are commonly seen in general practice, only a few children in the community eventually gain access to professional help (Rutter, Cox, Tupling et al, 1975; Bailey, Graham & Boniface, 1978). Whether a child is referred or not depends on various factors connected with the child and family (Garralda & Bailey, 1988) and others such as what the GP expects from the referral. Whether GPs know of what the child psychiatric services in the area have to offer might also be expected to effect referral. We know that there is a general dissatisfaction with written communication between general practitioners and specialists in terms of the quality on the communication and usefulness to both groups (Pullen & Yellowlees, 1985; Kentish, Jenkins & Lask, 1987).
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