Dr Kate Lyle is a Research Fellow based in Health Sciences at the University of Southampton
Professor Catherine Pope is Deputy Director NIHR CLAHRC Wessex
Dr Kate Lyle is a Research Fellow in Health Sciences at the University of Southampton and Professor Catherine Pope (right) is Deputy Director of NIHR CLAHRC Wessex
As academics, practitioners, and users of healthcare services we are all used to hearing about examples of successful interventions that have improved health services and care. Indeed one of the core aims of the NIHR CLARHC programme is to improve patient outcomes locally and across the wider NHS. Here in Wessex we have been working hard over the past 5 years to do just that, spreading best practice and evidence based research throughout the NHS.
But what about the things that don’t work? Attempts at service improvement or innovation that went nowhere? Often these are the things we don’t hear about. Yet, arguably there is as much to learn from our failures, as there is from successful innovations.
Accident and Emergency wait times seem to be constantly in the news. Less commonly but equally importantly are headlines that waiting lists for elective operations and procedures are on the rise. Although these topics hit our headlines regularly there is actually very little evidence and understanding behind the reasons for these changes in NHS services, and how the NHS can take positive action to cope with these issues.
From what we understand a lot of the currently held beliefs around the causes for pressure on NHS services come from very basic, non peer-reviewed, and potentially flawed analyses. It does not need too much explaining that making decisions based on these might be a bad idea.
Nearly two thirds (65%) of people admitted to hospital in the UK are aged over 65 years old. Many of them are frail and at high risk of poor healthcare outcomes – like staying longer in hospital, reduced physical abilities, becoming dependant, going to a care home, and even death.
National recommendations suggest that these high-risk older individuals should be routinely identified when they are admitted to hospital to allow healthcare teams to provide appropriate individual care that meets patient’s needs (1). It is unclear whether and how those people are identified in hospital. Therefore our study looked at the current practice in one hospital with regard to identification of patients at high-risk of poor healthcare outcomes. To do that, we reviewed a random sample of patient’s clinical notes and interviewed staff members who worked at five acute medicine for older people wards (2).
The event in Southampton attracted organisations* from across the Wessex region and beyond and a wide range of people including the public, paramedics, nursing staff, clinicians, managers and researchers.
Many stakeholders were represented bringing together 44 delegates, all there to examine and reflect on whether the ReSPECT approach to decision making for emergency care should be adopted.
If you surf to a news website right now or flick on the TV news this evening, you might for a moment think that you watching a bad science fiction movie of a dystopian future starring your local A&E department. Sadly, it is real. The news has gone mad about A&E and the waiting time crisis that it faces. This morning the BBC reported that only 82% of patients are meeting the four-hour waiting time target. It doesn’t make pleasant reading.
Having conversations about the best course of action in the event a person’s condition deteriorates is difficult for everyone involved, whether it is the patient themselves, their family or carer and the clinician.
After an initial study on Advance Care Planning (A. Richardson, S. Lund1), research into the current application of treatment escalation plans across the country, and early engagement with some of the acute trusts in the Wessex region, it was apparent there was a desire to improve this process.
Previously I have written about using a detailed computer model to ask ‘what-if’ an emergency department could be run differently. Hidden away in complex models like these are important rules of thumb that tell us how to efficiently manage patient flow.
Our muscles play an important role in our health and grip strength is a good way of measuring how well our muscles are doing. Our grip strength builds through young adulthood to reach its peak in our 30s after which it gradually tails away. It is a reliable and valid way of evaluating someone’s hand strength, which in turns provides an objective measure of the skeletal muscle strength and function in their whole body.
Dr Tom Monks puzzles the opportunities and pitfalls of modelling large parts of the health care system and how this might help patients waiting to leave hospital.
I work as a modeller for CLAHRC Wessex. In part that means I spend a lot of time speaking to health care professionals and commissioners about their priorities and teasing out if modelling could help. More and more often I am asked “can we model the whole health care system?”.
Spring. The headlines about A&E overcrowding are beginning to disappear just as a fresh wave of news reports burst forth with the NHS priorities for the next government.We now have the luxury of a brief respite to reflect on how we can improve the lot of our hospital A&E’s before the seasonal cycle repeats itself. I have spent my winter looking at A&E data examining the question – could the answer to A&E attendance lie in providing GP appointments for urgent – but non-emergency – care at the weekend?
This site promotes independent research by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) Funding Scheme. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health