New study to look at what influences people to use A&E, and their views on the proposed reconfiguration of services

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We’ve all heard the recent stories of waiting for hours to be seen in Accident and Emergency departments, and yet a significant number of those people who present themselves for care and attention could probably be better served by a different part of the health service.

One Essex hospital recently reported that at times more than two-thirds of people attending A&E have what are described as ‘minor’ conditions that would be more appropriately treated in a different clinical setting, such as a GP surgery or pharmacy, or even with self-care.

Healthwatch Essex has long looked at the lived experience of the people of Essex to understand the issues they face when accessing and using health and care services in the county. Their latest study aims to identify and understand what factors influence a person to visit an A&E department, and will seek to examine people’s views on the proposed changes.

“This is a piece of work we are undertaking on behalf of the Essex Success Regime, which has plans to change how urgent care services are delivered across Basildon, Broomfield and Southend hospitals. It is important for them to explore how the proposals for reconfiguration will affect patients, families and carers.” explained Dr Tom Nutt, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Essex.

The findings from the study will feed into a formal consultation process planned for later in the year and will help to shape how the proposed changes will be implemented. In order to gather the necessary information, Healthwatch Essex will be holding group discussions in Basildon (18th March), Chelmsford (21st March), and Southend (25th March).

Healthwatch Essex is looking for anyone who has visited the A&E departments in Basildon, Chelmsford or Southend hospitals in the last two months to have their say. During the group discussions participants will be asked questions about their experiences and opinions of urgent and emergency care, and the effects of the proposed changes. We will randomly select participants so you may or may not be contacted to take part. Participants who attend will receive a £40 voucher in appreciation of their time and to cover any travel expenses.

Anyone with an interest in being involved can register to take part online, emailing Healthwatch Essex, or by phone on 01376 572829. If you have any questions, please contact Dr Alex Georgiadis, Acting Research and Commissioning Manager at Healthwatch Essex, using the email and phone number above.