An example of how research can impact on patient care was The Medical School’s work to ease pressure on A&E departments.
The university worked with clinicians, policy makers and academics, to reduce unnecessary attendance at Accident and Emergency Departments (A&E) and costs without compromising patient experience, safety or quality of care.
The evidence found that telephone advice, decision support and referral pathways are safe and effective has resulted in widespread international take out of models of these models of care. Between 2000 and 2014, Snooks and colleagues at Swansea University have undertaken a programme of applied research in collaboration with ambulance service providers, policy makers and academics to identify safe and cost-effective alternatives to ambulance dispatch and conveyance to A&E Departments.
- 40% of calls to emergency health services world-wide did not need an emergency ambulance.
- Observational studies (2003-2006) illustrated poor outcomes for older fallers following ambulance visits.
- Evaluations of alternatives to A&E transportation (2000-2013) that enable paramedics to leave patients at home showed opportunities to use advanced paramedics skills and ‘Treat and Refer’ protocols to refer patients to alternative non-emergency services.
- Evaluations of alternatives to ambulance despatch on initial telephone contact showed the safety of telephone assessment and advice for patients triaged as non-serious and reduced despatch rates (2000-2006).
The research is informing alternatives to the default ‘lights and siren’ response followed by conveyance to A&E, reducing unnecessary hospital attendance and freeing resources for those with urgent needs. In England, for example, emergency calls not leading to hospital transport rose from 480,000 in 2001(10%) to 4.1 million in 2013 (45%) with savings from avoided ambulance journeys of £60 million.