Study Aims to Identify Ways of Reducing Unnecessary Acute Hospital Admissions and Related Costs
A collaborative study led by the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD), Plymouth University, at acute admissions sites within four hospitals in the Westcountry, is the first that aims to identify how decisions are made and clinical experience is used to minimise the number of unnecessary acute admissions to hospital, with a view to making recommendations for best practice and cost savings across the NHS and beyond.
The study has received funding of £429,000 from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services & Delivery Research programme and will run for 24 months. It is also supported by the NIHR Peninsula Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (PenCLAHRC).
It is estimated that between six and 20 per cent of emergency medical admissions in the UK could be avoided. Unnecessary admissions are expensive, make inefficient use of the time of medical staff and do not address the needs of the patient – indeed, they can often lead to unwarranted distress.
The research team from PCMD, Plymouth University, the University of the West of England, and the Universities of Bristol and Exeter, will work with acute admissions teams at hospitals in Bath, Exeter, Gloucester and Plymouth.
The research project will include an analysis of wider health care systems, including care pathways, the role of clinical teams, governance and commissioning. The research team will interview lead clinicians and managers, model patient pathways, and estimate associated costs.
It is hoped that the project will address a paucity of research on the variability of hospital acute admission policies both in place and being developed. Analysis of the results of this research project will help to form recommendations for best practice.
The research team is led by Professor Christian Gericke, Professor of Public Health, PCMD, Deputy Director, NIHR PenCLAHRC and honorary consultant neurologist at South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. He said: “Our research has the potential to improve acute admission services nationwide, make best use of clinical professional skills and expertise and, most importantly, make suggestions for changes to policy that will have direct benefit to patients. We are grateful to our colleagues in Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Gloucester and Plymouth for their collaboration on this project.”