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Factors that influence the way communities respond to proposals for major changes to local emergency services: a qualitative study.


ABSTRACT: According to policy commentators, decisions about how best to organise care involve trade-offs between factors relating to care quality, workforce, cost, and patient access. In England, proposed changes such as Emergency Department closures often face public opposition. This study examined the way communities respond to plans aimed at reorganising emergency services, including the trade-offs inherent in such decisions.Cross-sectional study involving in-depth interviews. Participants selected their priorities for emergency care, including aspects they might be prepared to have 'less' of (e.g. rapid access) if it meant having 'more' of another (e.g. consultant-delivered care). A thematic analysis was carried out, combining inductive and deductive approaches, drawing on theories about risk perception.Two urban areas of England; one where changes to emergency services were under consideration ('Greenville'), and one where they were not ('Hilltown').28 participants in total. Greenville interviewees included more common emergency service users - parents of young children (n=5) and older people (n=6) - plus patient representatives and individuals campaigning against service closures (n=9). Hilltown interviewees (n=8) received outpatient care for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, an important cause of emergency admission.Most participants, in both areas, were not willing to accommodate the trade-offs involved in consolidating emergency services, principally because of the belief that timely access is associated with better outcomes. Participants did not consider the proposed improvements as gains worth having; interviewees believed care quality would be adversely impact, partly because increased patient numbers would place staff under greater pressure and result in longer waiting times.Visible clinical leadership and detailed explanation of the case for change were insufficient to overcome opposition to the reconfiguration in Greenville, challenging the assumption that communities can be persuaded by evidence. Commissioners should make explicit credible plans to accommodate changes in patient flows, as well as clarifying the roles played by key staff groups.

SUBMITTER: Barratt H 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4373871 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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