The NHS Plan signalled the creation of GPs with special interests (GPwSIs) in the UK. The role of a GPwSI involves the acquisition of knowledge and skills that enable GPs to dedicate a portion of their time to performing the role of consultants to their colleagues within the ambit of general practice, and with respect to specific health problems encountered. The objectives behind the introduction of GPwSIs are to improve the patient's access to specialist care, to cut waiting-list times, and to save on referral costs, (and as a consequence to increase the prestige of the GPs involved). However, the reality may not meet these expectations. Before accepting the proposition for universal implementation of GPwSIs empirical evidence is required to demonstrate that overall health is improved (of patients as well as the population); patients, especially patients of doctors working alone or in small groups (specifically in rural areas) are not disadvantaged; referral is improved and made more appropriate to the requirements of patients and their health problems; real prestige is generated, not only among GPs and students, but also among patients; biological views typical of the specialist are not promoted; and a brake is not applied to other alternatives in, or the reorganisation of, primary care.