Modelling helping NHS to cope with A&E winter crisis

The use of computer modelling and simulations across the health service has been advocated by two NHS chiefs in a bid to develop new strategies and cope with the A&E winter crisis.

A report by the Cumberland Initiative entitled ‘Emergency Simulation – How modelling is resuscitating NHS Urgent & Unscheduled Care’, highlights the use of modelling as a cost-effective and safe way to trial innovative approaches to solving problems across the health service.

It is supported by the former chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Mike Farrar and the former Health Minister for NHS reform, Lord Norman Warner, who see the concepts it suggests as a way to help avoid the unintended consequences of service level changes or bed closures.

Lord Norman Warner said that NHS trusts based in London, Cardiff, Devon, Lincolnshire and Nottingham have “used modelling to get the right mixes of bed capacity, ambulance availability, consultant cover, ward organisation and GP support to tackle the problems many hospitals experience in their A&E departments.”

He urged other trusts to emulate them in making use of technology which could offer both patients and clinicians a “better service.”

The report by the Cumberland Initiative – a network of industry experts, modellers and clinicians – showcased the positives already seen by those trusts which were making use of modelling. In Cardiff, for example, A&E demand was generally stable.

Meanwhile, Torbay Hospital in Devon saw a bed closure plan being rethought by managers after modelling was implemented, and a hospital in Lincolnshire used modelling to support the insertion of a GP in to A&E to provide intermediate care to patients.