Sharing approaches to unscheduled care
For this post, I’ve decided to try something a little different. I’m going to pull together some interesting practice my colleagues came across while writing a report on Unscheduled Care. There are some great snippets of good practice in this report and I believe they’re worth sharing. So here are (only) a few nice ideas from the report that might catch your interest – though of course the report offers much more than I can here.
All over the world, there have been many campaigns to try and change the way the public uses unscheduled care services. There is a strong marketing element to these campaigns and there are many examples available to help NHS bodies design their communications – take a look at these posters.
I don’t have much marketing experience and the report shared some key elements of success, written by the National Social Marketing Centre. For me, these were a useful starting point:
- Aim to change people’s actual behaviour, not just their attitudes;
- Make sure you fully understand your customers;
- Use behavioural theories (something some of us will need to learn);
- Aim to understand what motivates your customers;
- Carefully consider the costs and the benefits of a new approach;
- Understand what else is competing for the customer’s attention;
- Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach (which fits in well with the Good Practice Exchange’s values); and
- Use a variety of methods.
It was also interesting to read about some new practices that the NHS has been trying.
Some hospitals in England have been using alert systems to get in touch with clinicians when patients are admitted to the emergency department. This means they can specify when they expect to respond and keep on top of waiting times. More examples like this are in NHS Improvement: Making the connections with the challenges of unscheduled care.
Cwm Taf Health Board has also been trialling a new practice, called ‘Phone First’. Their publicity has focused on encouraging patients to phone first, to receive the correct level of care, ranging from self-help to accessing the emergency department. They’re waiting to see how this trial works out and, if successful, will roll out the practice to other hospitals.
Aneurin Bevan Health Board’s Primary Care Access Group has launched a scheme called A for Access where practices are given a rating for their access arrangements. The scheme resulted from a joint project between the health board and the Primary Care Foundation. The ratings are published on the health board’s website and each practice is asked to display a certificate showing their rating.
So, for those of you working in the field of unscheduled care, where can you go to get further good practice advice?
The Primary Care Foundation’s report, Urgent care in general practice, sets out key principles for improving urgent access and highlights a range of case studies.
The Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions’ report Primary care: Today and tomorrow, Improving general practice by working differently provides evidence about different models of care.
I hope you’ll find some of these useful.