Urgent care service: Qualitative research
Summary of findings
Awareness, understanding and usage of services varies by area and by demographic group. Even when awareness of a service is high, understanding of what the service provides could be improved. There is particular confusion about the minor injuries unit and walk-in centres, and a tendency to use those services most familiar with, rather than those most appropriate. 16-25s and ethnic minorities are most in need of education.
People recognised that pharmacies are a good source of advice, but they are not top of mind, so less likely to be considered.
It would encourage informed choice if people could see a full list of alternative options available along with examples of when to use them.
Overall awareness of WYUC is low. Awareness is noticeably higher in Calderdale.
The name is causing confusion due to the word ‘urgent’, which implies an emergency requiring 999 / A&E care, and does not fit the reality of the service.
WYUC will mainly be used in place of out-of-hours GP. Future promotion should encourage usage at all times of day / days of week.
Also confusion about the cross-over with NHD Direct and whether WYUC is simply a duplication. NHS Direct may be preferred simply due to familiarity.
Most negative towards the service are:
- families (prefer NHS Direct)
- ethnic minorities (lack of understanding)
Promotional materials need to be improved; those presented were considered dull, boring and irrelevant. In contrast, those for the NHS ‘Choose’ Well campaign were highly praised.
Research is required to assess the key messages and communication routes to:
- Increase awareness of the service
- Encourage usage
- Ensure the correct usage of the service
Research is also required to:
- Assess awareness of the service and of alternatives available
- Assess any shift in usage patterns due to the new service
- Understand perceptions of ‘urgent’, as opposed to ‘emergency’ and ‘general’
- Understand the drivers behind usage of a range of NHS services, including 999, A&E, GP Surgery, NHS Direct as well as the new WY Urgent Care number
- Establish which routes are used on which occasions and gain an understanding of how this behaviour can be changed
Findings from the research will be used to offer guidance for raising awareness and understanding of the WYUC service and will provide a benchmark from which to evaluate awareness levels in the future.
West Yorkshire Urgent Care (WYUC) - 0345 605 99 99 (a 24 hour telephone number for people with urgent care needs in West Yorkshire) was launched on the 1st April 2009.
Patients can be assessed and an appointment made for face-to-face treatment via the one call. The WYUC line currently handles in the region of 30k-40k calls per month and covers the 5 Primary Care Trust (PCTs) areas of Bradford & Airedale, Leeds, Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield.
The highest users of emergency care are vulnerable families (social classes C2/D), white middle class families (social classes B/C1) and middle class Asians/multicultural (social classes B/C1/C2/D/E).
After a few initial ‘teething troubles’ the service is now fully up and running and NHS Direct (who took over the call handling from LCD since it was launched) are ready to undertake further promotion of the service.
Some marketing has already been delivered and local research amongst patients and residents identified the need for more information about urgent care services and out of hour’s access/facilities.
Research to explore the awareness, understanding and usage of the (relatively new) West Yorkshire Urgent Care service, and to provide guidance on how to increase these measures via effective communication.
White and BME
- Mix of ages (from 16 to 65+)
- Mix of lifestage and family situation
- 5x focus groups (1 per PCT)
- Each comprising 8-11 respondents. Lasting 90 minutes.
- A group each for: vulnerable families, white middle class, Asian / multicultural, young people, older people
- 600x face-to-face interviews
- Evenly split by PCT area
- Representative of gender, age, SOG
- Mix of urban / rural
Data collection methodology
Other data collection methodology
Face to face quantitative interviews
- 5x group discussions (8-11 respondents each)
- 600x interviews
West Yorkshire. (Groups held at Leeds, Bradford, Batley, Halifax, Wrenthorpe)
Groups: October 2009. Interviews: end Nov / early Dec 2009