An exploratory study utilising system dynamics to understand use of unscheduled secondary care

Avoiding unnecessary use of emergency hospital services is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the National Health Service.  Recently published figures suggest that people living in Bristol more likely to end up in hospital unexpectedly than others throughout the southwest region or even nationally.  Many schemes have already been set up to tackle this problem at a local level.  And yet, despite these moves, the number of people being admitted to hospital at short notice or choosing to attend emergency departments rather than alternative health services continues to rise.  It is vital that we find a way of turning around this trend if we are to make the most of existing local resources and stay within budget in future.  Effective risk management could play a key role in solving the problem since it aims to ensure that patients are offered the right level of care by the appropriate health professional in a way which is easily accessible and timely for their particular health concern. 

The proposed project will consider the issue from the perspective of a patient seeking help locally for long-standing breathing problems.  It will explore the kind of care this individual might expect to receive if they sought help urgently for their condition at a range of different service providers within the city.  It will also test out a new approach to managing patient risk and consider how effective this is at reducing emergency department use and hospital admissions.

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