Parents' decision-making about attending an emergency department with their child

Richardson, Jim, Price, Jayne and Bolland, Rachael (2019) Parents' decision-making about attending an emergency department with their child. Nursing Children and Young People, 31(5), pp. 25-29. ISSN (print) 2046-2336


There is a possibility that front-line services, particularly out-of-hours services, are not accessible to some parents. The aim of this service evaluation was to gain a better understanding about visits to one emergency department (ED) in the south of England by children and their parents or carers. The specific focus was to elucidate the reasons behind frequent ED attendance and indicate a potential redesign of services. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 parents. The overarching theme emerging from the transcripts was parents’ complex decision-making to ensure their children’s healthcare needs were addressed. Parents highlighted the absence of consistent specialist community services to support them in caring for their children at home and to act as a resource for decision-making relating to their child’s care. Telephone and online information services such as NHS 111 were perceived as not always helpful. Parents were able to identify models of out-of-hours care which they saw as potentially more accessible and useful, such as the provision of a specialist paediatrician at GP surgeries. Further evaluation is necessary to make it possible to integrate parents’ views and needs into service design and delivery.

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