A cost-minimisation study of 1,001 NHS Direct users

Lambert, Rod, Fordham, Richard ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5520-6255, Large, Shirley and Gaffney, Brian (2013) A cost-minimisation study of 1,001 NHS Direct users. BMC Health Services Research, 13. ISSN 1472-6963

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Background: To determine financial and quality of life impact of patients calling the ‘0845’ NHS Direct (NHS Direct) telephone helpline from the perspective of NHS service providers. Methods: Cost-minimisation of repeated cohort measures from a National Survey of NHS Direct’s telephone service using telephone survey results. 1,001 people contacting NHS Direct’s 0845 telephone service in 2009 who agreed to a 4-6 week follow-up. A cost comparison between NHS Direct recommendation and patient-stated first alternative had NHS Direct not been available. Analysis also considers impact on quality of life of NHS Direct recommendations using the Visual Analogue Scale of the EQ-5D. Results: Significant referral pattern differences were observed between NHS Direct recommendation and patient-stated first alternatives (p < 0.001). Per patient cost savings resulted from NHS Direct’s recommendation to attend A&E (£36.54); GP Practice (£19.41); Walk-In Centre (£49.85); Pharmacist (£25.80); Dentist (£2.35) and do nothing/treat at home (£19.77), while it was marginally more costly for 999 calls (£3.33). Overall an average per patient saving of £19.55 was found (a 36% saving compared with patient-stated first alternatives). For 5 million NHS Direct telephone calls per year, this represents an annual cost saving of £97,756,013. Significant quality of life differences were observed at baseline and follow-up between those who believed their problem was ‘urgent’ (p = 0.001) and those who said it was ‘non-urgent’ (p = 0.045). Whilst both groups improved, self-classified ‘urgent’ cases made greater health gains than those who said they were ‘non-urgent’ (urgent by 21.5 points; non-urgent by 16.1 points). Conclusions: The ‘0845’ service of NHS Direct produced substantial cost savings in terms of referrals to the other parts of the NHS when compared with patients’ own stated first alternative. Health-related quality of life also improved for users of this service demonstrating that these savings can be produced without perceived harm to patients.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: cost savings,health expenditures,health services,hotlines,humans,pain measurement,qualitative research,quality of life,referral and consultation,state medicine
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Health Economics
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Public Health and Health Services Research
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2013 10:56
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 05:53
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/47018
DOI: 10.1186/1472-6963-13-300

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