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Patient and public preferences and priorities regarding the organisation of emergency hospital care

Project funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship

July 2012-September 2013

Key contact: Dr Helen Barratt

Supervisors: Professor Rosalind Raine, Professor Naomi Fulop, Dr David Harrison

Proposed changes to hospital services, such as downgrading Emergency Departments, often create high profile, contentious debates. Whilst doctors tend to focus on potential health gains for patients, ease of access to care and loyalty to a local institution are often more important to the public.

The first aim of the study is to establish which aspects of emergency hospital services are most important to patients and the public. The second aim is to determine the trade-offs members of the public may be prepared to make when proposals to reconfigure emergency hospital services are being considered. This will involve a series of qualitative interviews with a range of participants, including patients with a chronic condition and members of the public.

This information will be used to develop and pilot a method to engage patients and the public in critically evaluating their local health services during the early planning stages of a consultation about a proposed reconfiguration. Information gained via this method could be used by commissioners to inform the development of service options and communications strategies, as well as highlighting priorities for future research.