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Impact of emergency care centralisation on mortality and efficiency: a retrospective service evaluation
  1. Christopher Price1,
  2. Stephen McCarthy2,
  3. Angela Bate2,
  4. Peter McMeekin2
  1. 1 Population Health Sciences Institute, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2 Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christopher Price, Population Health Sciences Institute, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4AE, UK; C.I.M.Price{at}


Objective Evidence favours centralisation of emergency care for specific conditions, but it remains unclear whether broader implementation improves outcomes and efficiency. Routine healthcare data examined consolidation of three district general hospitals with mixed medical admission units (MAU) into a single high-volume site directing patients from the ED to specialty wards with consultant presence from 08:00 to 20:00.

Methods Consecutive unscheduled adult index admissions from matching postcode areas were identified retrospectively in Hospital Episode Statistics over a 3-year period: precentralisation baseline (from 16 June 2014 to 15 June 2015; n=18 586), year 1 postcentralisation (from 16 June 2015 to 15 June 2016; n=16 126) and year 2 postcentralisation (from 16 June 2016 to 15 June 2017; n=17 727). Logistic regression including key demographic covariates compared baseline with year 1 and year 2 probabilities of mortality and daily discharge until day 60 after admission and readmission within 60 days of discharge.

Results Relative to baseline, admission postcentralisation was associated with favourable OR (95% CI) for day 60 mortality (year 1: 0.95 (0.88 to 1.02), p=0.18; year 2: 0.94 (0.91 to 0.97), p<0.01), mainly among patients aged 80+ years (year 1: 0.88 (0.79 to 0.97); year 2: 0.91 (0.87 to 0.96)). The probability of being discharged alive on any day since admission increased (year 1: 1.07 (1.04 to 1.10), p<0.01; year 2: 1.04 (1.02 to 1.05), p<0.01) and the risk of readmission decreased (year 1: 0.90 (0.87 to 0.94), p<0.01; year 2: 0.92 (0.90 to 0.94), p<0.01).

Conclusion A centralised site providing early specialist care was associated with improved short-term outcomes and efficiency relative to lower volume ED admitting to MAU, particularly for older patients.

  • emergency care systems
  • emergency departments
  • emergency care systems, efficiency
  • geriatrics
  • quality improvement

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  • Contributors CP and PM conceived and designed the project. CP, SM, AB and PM acquired, analysed and interpreted the data. CP drafted the first version of the manuscript. CP, SM, AB and PM drafted the subsequent versions of the manuscript. The corresponding author attests that all listed authors meet the authorship criteria and that no others meeting the criteria have been omitted.

  • Funding This study was funded by Dunhill Medical Trust (Research Grant R357/0514). The funder and clinical service did not influence the design, analysis or reporting.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval As a service evaluation comprising only routinely collected data items, ethics committee approval was not required and patient care was not affected. Approval from the local Caldicott guardian was granted. Data are not publicly available as they relate to the care of individuals within the NHS, and permission was granted specifically for use in this project.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.

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