Shifting resources from secondary to primary care is a priority for purchasers. Both the introduction of the National Health Service and community care act 1990, and acute units having increasing incentives for earlier discharge, are likely to place greater demands on community hospital beds. Not all general practitioners have the option of community hospital beds. Before access to general practitioner beds can be broadened, existing beds should be used appropriately and shown to be cost-effective. Purchasers therefore require criteria for the appropriateness of admissions to general practitioner beds, and the results of a general practitioner bed cost-benefit analysis.