Community emergency medicine throughout the UK and Ireland: a comparison of current national activity

Emerg Med J. 2022 Aug;39(8):568-574. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2021-211695. Epub 2021 Sep 30.


Background: Community emergency medicine (CEM) aims to bring highly skilled, expert medical care to the patient outside of the traditional ED setting. Currently, there are several different CEM models in existence within the UK and Ireland which confer multiple benefits including provision of a senior clinical decision-maker early in the patient's journey, frontloading of time-critical interventions, easing pressure on busy EDs and reducing inpatient bed days. This is achieved through increased community-based management supplemented by utilisation of alternative care pathways. This study aimed to undertake a national comparison of CEM services currently in operation.

Method: A data collection tool was distributed to CEM services by the Pre-Hospital trainee Operated Research Network in October 2020 which aimed to establish current practice among services in the UK and Ireland. It focused on six key sections: service aims; staffing and training; job tasking and patient selection; funding and vehicles used; equipment and medication; data collection, governance and research activity.

Results: Seven services responded from across England, Wales and Ireland. Similarities were found with the aims of each service, staffing structures and operational times. There were large differences in equipment carried, categories of patient targeted and with governance and research activity.

Conclusion: While some national variations in services are explained by funding and geographical location, this review process revealed several differences in practice under the umbrella term of CEM. A national definition of CEM and its aim, with guidance on scope of practice and measurable outcomes, should be generated to ensure high standard and cost-effective emergency care is delivered in the community.

Keywords: doctors in PHC; emergency ambulance systems; emergency care systems; paramedics; prehospital care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • England
  • Humans
  • Ireland