Background: To identify the benefits of a network in emergency and unscheduled care research, a six week scoping study was undertaken. Objectives were to: draw together stakeholders; identify and prioritise research topics; identify sites for recruitment to studies; and agree a research strategy for a network.
Methods: A workshop was held to discuss and agree a research strategy based on results from four activities: visits to established research centres in emergency and unscheduled care; a literature overview; interviews with stakeholders in a GP out-of-hours service; and an exploration of the potential for routine data to support research in emergency care.
Results: Participants attended the workshop from user groups, primary care, the ambulance service, social care, the national telephone based health helpline, the Welsh Assembly Government and the academic sector. Site visits identified opportunities for collaboration. Gaps in knowledge were identified concerning the effectiveness of alternative models of emergency care delivery. Interview data highlighted a lack of evidence related to the quality of out-of-hours provision of primary care. The All Wales Injury Surveillance System (AWISS) was found to offer the potential to use routine data to support quantitative studies in emergency care. Three key issues emerged across all activities: working across boundaries; patient involvement; and triage.
Conclusion: The study included views from patient, provider, policy and academic perspectives and built the case for a research network in emergency care. Now funded, TRUST (Thematic Research network for emergency and UnScheduled Treatment) will allow the development of research proposals, building of research teams and recruitment of sites and patients both in Wales and across the UK. It aims to address the imbalance between investment and research in this area and help support provision of 'the right care to the right people at the right time'.