Learn about the research we carried out to understand why many people choose to visit Accident and Emergency rather than other Urgent Care services.

The Challenge

During 2019, visits to a number of Accident & Emergency Departments in the south of England reached a record high. The NSMC were commissioned to carry out research to understand why this increase had taken place and identify why people choose to attend A&E rather than use other Urgent Care services. 

What We Did


We carried out face-to-face interviews in a number of A&E Departments with a purposive sample of patients selected with the help of the medical staff. We asked the interviewees their reasons for attending A&E as well as their knowledge of other Urgent Care and On-the-day services. We also explored the barriers stopping patients using these alternative services as well as the possible motivators that could encourage them to use them in the future. 


We analysed the result of the research to generate actionable insight for the client. Our research demonstrated that for the majority of our interviewees their trip to A&E made perfect sense at the time. Their decisions to attend A&E were also usually made with a lack of knowledge of the other services available to them. Some interviewees also had prior experiences of other Urgent Care and On-the-day services that hadn't worked out as they would have liked. 


Based upon the insight, we generated a number of possible interventions that would help patients to consider accessing other Urgent Care services before coming to A&E. Different interventions were developed for each of the five different A&E user segments that we identified through our research. We also proposed that each of these interventions should be further developed through a series of co-creation sessions with representatives from each of the five segments. 

What Our Clients Say

  • "The NSMC's recent research into A&E attendance was well planned, well delivered and highly insightful. This is a highly sensitive research topic and we are delighted with the NSMC's work." 

    Emma Baxter

    Urgent Care Manager, NHS East Sussex CCG

What We Achieved

The insight gained from this research is being used by the client to develop Urgent Care services that meet the needs of the local population. It is also being used to ensure that the breadth of Urgent Care and On-the-day services  currently available is communicated effectively to the local population. The NSMC is also currently involved in this additional strand of work.