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NHS Leaders urge health service to use modelling to resolve AE winter crisis

Mike Farrar, former Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, and Lord Norman Warner, former Health Minister for NHS reform, have both backed the use of computer modelling and simulations throughout the health service in order to develop new strategies, and avoid the unintended consequences of bed closures or service level changes.

A report by the Cumberland Initiative, ‘Emergency Simulation – How modelling is resuscitating NHS Urgent & Unscheduled Care’, puts forward the case for computer modelling as a safe and inexpensive way of test driving innovative approaches.

Brunel University’s Professor Terry Young, co-founder of the Cumberland initiative, a network of leading clinicians, managers, modellers, academics and industry specialists, said: ‘The benefits of modelling are being felt on the ground and making a difference in the current A&E crisis. We need to ensure that policy and practice are making the most of this approach particularly during this difficult winter for the NHS.’

 Lord Norman Warner, former Health Minister, said: ‘Trusts in London, Cardiff, Devon, Lincolnshire and Nottingham, have, as this report shows, 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. Other trusts should emulate them in using technology to give both patients and clinicians a better service.’

The benefits for NHS Trusts already using modelling were highlighted in the report. In Cardiff modelling showed that A&E demand was generally stable, with crises largely due to increases in attendance by people aged over 75. Also mentioned were Torbay Hospital, Devon, where modelling convinced managers and clinicians to rethink a bed closure plan and Lincolnshire, where modelling supported the insertion of a GP in A&E to provide intermediate care and to close acute beds.