Understanding unnecessary visits to A&E
  • February 5, 2015

Understanding unnecessary visits to A&E

West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) like many CCGs is keen to reduce the number of “unnecessary” visits to accident and emergency (A&E) departments across the region and decided to design a communications campaign based on an improved knowledge and understanding of patient behaviour.

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Some initial exploratory work helped the CCG identify a number of sub-groups who were making “unnecessary” visits and whilst it had a good understanding of the behaviour and attitudes of many of them they felt they needed to know more about one sub-group in particular; people aged 18 to 44 years old with and without children. Alterline was commissioned to further the CCG’s understanding by conducting an independent qualitative research study into the behaviour, attitudes and perceptions of this group.

"Thank you to the team for all their efforts. The research they undertook has given us the confidence to create a more in-depth and bespoke marketing campaign and fine tune our messaging to address the needs of our patients." 
Sarah Grintzevitch, Media and Communications Officer

The study started with a comprehensive review of both academic and grey literature and was followed by 30 in-depth interviews and four on-line focus groups. The research focused on the participants’ responses to a number of key questions around what they perceived to be an emergency or an urgent care situation; what they saw as the role of A&E; how they would deal with particular scenarios; their actual experience of using A&E and how they view that experience with hindsight etc.

The research provided some invaluable understanding of this group particularly around awareness, information and understanding, decision-making and the impact of children as patients.

The campaign includes:

  • A month of TV ads on ITV
  • Ongoing radio ads around 111 and pharmacies
  • Articles into council newspapers
  • A social media campaign
  • Various collateral including posters and leaflets
  • Parental education programme with one-off sessions in every school in the area followed up with short videos on how to treat some of the most common conditions that will be sent out via electronic school newsletters every month.

Following the campaign we will be conducting a follow-up evaluation and impact study.