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New research could help would-be A&E attendees

9 May 2016

New research funded by the British Red Cross and carried out by researchers from the Centre for Academic Primary Care together with colleagues from the University of the West of England aims to discover what information will help people know what to do and where to go when a person is unwell.

The Red Cross helps people in crisis and has a long history of providing support. It is keen to explore whether learning first aid might help people to feel better equipped to understand, cope and take action.

The number of people attending A&E departments has increased over recent years. An estimated 22.4 million people attended A&E in England in 2014/15, equivalent to about 1600 more each day, compared to the year before according to a parliamentary briefing. This research will discover whether tailored first aid education from the Red Cross might support current and future users of urgent healthcare services, so that people receive the help they need in the most appropriate setting.

The researchers will speak to a wide range of people attending A&E departments, minor injuries units and walk-in centres in Bristol during the summer to gather information. They will also talk to doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff, and look at policies and current information relating to the services.

Dr Julie Mytton, Associate Professor for Child Health at UWE Bristol, who is leading the study says: “We need to understand why people choose to go to an A&E or a minor injuries unit. We have seen a steady increase in those attending A&E and we know that some groups, such as parents of young children, those with long term conditions and their carers often seek support through A&E departments, but we don’t know if there could be additional information that might help them seek appropriate help through other routes.  For example, the parents of a young child with a fever or a rash might attend A&E, but they could also get advice and treatment from their pharmacist or GP.

 “This research is not to tell people where to go, but about providing information and help at the point it is needed. First aid or self-care information might be of benefit to certain groups, but how and where to target this is what we need the research to tell us. We are really pleased to be working with the British Red Cross to understand better the needs of patients and carers in emergency situations. We also believe that what we find could help the urgent care services too.”

Joe Mulligan, Head of First Aid Education at the British Red Cross, said: “We want to understand how first aid education can become more integral to public health. This research will help us understand how we can build people’s confidence in their ability to treat minor injuries effectively at home and potentially reduce pressures on A&E departments.”

Three researchers from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care (Dr Helen Baxter, Dr Matthew Booker and Dr Leah Bowen) are working on the project with Dr Mytton.

This research project is the result of a collaboration between two Bristol Health Partners Health Integration Teams (HITs). These are groups of professionals, practitioners, commissioners, academics, patients and the public who come together around a particular health topic to improve the health outcomes for that group. This project involves the Child Injury Prevention and Injury Care (CIPIC) HIT, and the Avoiding Hospital Admissions (ITHAcA) HIT.

David Relph, Director of Bristol Health Partners said, “Health Integration Teams – or HITs - are all about getting people working together for positive results. This is a really important piece of work that could make a real difference to our overstretched urgent care services. The fact that two of our HITs are working together with the Red Cross to get this vital project going is particularly heartening.”

Further information

UWE Bristol - Centre for Health and Clinical Research

Research in children and young people

About Bristol Health Partners

Bristol Health Partners exists to improve the health of those who live in and around Bristol and to improve the delivery of the services on which they rely, and to act as a mechanism for change in our health and care community and our city region. It is a strategic collaboration between the city’s three NHS trusts, three clinical commissioning groups, two universities and its local authority. It aims to maximise Bristol’s health research, and to transform the understanding, prevention and treatment of key health problems in Bristol. The nine organisations involved have formed Bristol Health Partners voluntarily, and it is funded by contributions from the partners. Find out more about the partnership at

About Health Integration Teams

Health Integration Teams (HITs) tackle health priorities by working in new ways, harnessing the best research, innovation, care and education to make a difference to people's health. Our HITs must evaluate, involve patients and the public and have a whole system approach. This pioneering approach to research, health service and public health integration can help solve seemingly intractable problems. Find out more about Health Integration Teams at

About the British Red Cross

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

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