This qualitative study describes the impact of deploying general practitioners (GPs) as primary care physicians (PCPs) in three Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in Greater Manchester as part of a Health Action Zone initiative to promote integration of systems of care more responsive to the needs of inner city population groups. The setting was three Accident and Emergency Units in Greater Manchester. Semi-structured interviews with the PCPs and key A & E staff (n = 32) before the PCPs were deployed, then at intervals throughout the project. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Transcripts were analysed using constant comparison to identify emerging themes. Key themes centred on the assumptions and negotiation surrounding the emerging roles of the PCPs (as seen by themselves and other staff), particularly the conflict between operational (day-to-day work with patients) and strategic (forward planning) roles. The PCP appeared to act as a catalyst for the view that patients were not presenting “inappropriately”, rather, the problems presented at A&E might be best dealt with in different parts of the healthcare system, or by different personnel, and it is the service currently available that is inappropriate. By deploying the GP in a new role as PCP, but with the traditional autonomy associated with being a GP, and allowing him/her to develop the role according to local need, the new service evolved to identify and meet the needs of patients more appropriately. The use of the expanded role of the GP may be more successful in achieving ‘joined-up’ services than deploying other professional groups, such as nurses, to fulfil a specific role.