A framework to address key issues of neonatal service configuration in England: the NeoNet multimethods study

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Title: A framework to address key issues of neonatal service configuration in England: the NeoNet multimethods study
Authors: Villeneuve, E
Pitt, M
Landa, P
Allen, M
Spencer, A
Prosser, S
Gibson, A
Kelsey, K
Mujica-Mota, R
Manktelow, B
Modi, N
Thornton, S
Pitt, M
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Background There is an inherent tension in neonatal services between the efficiency and specialised care that comes with centralisation and the provision of local services with associated ease of access and community benefits. This study builds on previous work in South West England to address these issues at a national scale. Objectives (1) To develop an analytical framework to address key issues of neonatal service configuration in England, (2) to investigate visualisation tools to facilitate the communication of findings to stakeholder groups and (3) to assess parental preferences in relation to service configuration alternatives. Main outcome measures The ability to meet nurse staffing guidelines, volumes of units, costs, mortality, number and distance of transfers, travel distances and travel times for parents. Design Descriptive statistics, location analysis, mathematical modelling, discrete event simulation and economic analysis were used. Qualitative methods were used to interview policy-makers and parents. A parent advisory group supported the study. Setting NHS neonatal services across England. Data Neonatal care data were sourced from the National Neonatal Research Database. Information on neonatal units was drawn from the National Neonatal Audit Programme. Geographic and demographic data were sourced from the Office for National Statistics. Travel time data were retrieved via a geographic information system. Birth data were sourced from Hospital Episode Statistics. Parental cost data were collected via a survey. Results Location analysis shows that to achieve 100% of births in units with ≥ 6000 births per year, the number of birth centres would need to be reduced from 161 to approximately 72, with more parents travelling > 30 minutes. The maximum number of neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) needed to achieve 100% of very low-birthweight infants attending high-volume units is 36 with existing NICUs, or 48 if NICUs are located wherever there is currently a neonatal unit of any level. Simulation modelling further demonstrated the workforce implications of different configurations. Mortality modelling shows that the birth of very preterm infants in high-volume hospitals reduces mortality (a conservative estimate of a 1.2-percentage-point lower risk) relative to these births in other hospitals. It is currently not possible to estimate the impact of mortality for infants transferred into NICUs. Cost modelling shows that the mean length of stay following a birth in a high-volume hospital is 9 days longer and the mean cost is £5715 more than for a birth in another neonatal unit. In addition, the incremental cost per neonatal life saved is £460,887, which is comparable to other similar life-saving interventions. The analysis of parent costs identified unpaid leave entitlement, food, travel, accommodation, baby care and parking as key factors. The qualitative study suggested that central concerns were the health of the baby and mother, communication by medical teams and support for families. Limitations The following factors could not be modelled because of a paucity of data – morbidity outcomes, the impact of transfers and the maternity/neonatal service interface. Conclusions An evidence-based framework was developed to inform the configuration of neonatal services and model system performance from the perspectives of both service providers and parents. Future work To extend the modelling to encompass the interface between maternity and neonatal services.
Issue Date: 1-Oct-2018
Date of Acceptance: 19-Feb-2018
ISSN: 2050-4349
Publisher: NIHR Journals Library
Journal / Book Title: Health Services and Delivery Research
Volume: 6
Issue: 35
Copyright Statement: © Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO 2018. This work was produced by Villeneuve et al. under the terms of a commissioning contract issued by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This issue may be freely reproduced for the purposes of private research and study and extracts (or indeed, the full report) may be included in professional journals provided that suitable acknowledgement is made and the reproduction is not associated with any form of advertising. Applications for commercial reproduction should be addressed to: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK.
Publication Status: Published
Open Access location:
Online Publication Date: 2018-10-01
Appears in Collections:Department of Medicine

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