Improving health and social care service resilience over public holidays: report

Report from a review of the resilience of health and social care services over public holidays and in particular, the Christmas and Easter festive periods.

3 Service Intelligence

In order to underpin the deliberations and findings of the Public Holiday Review, the Information Services Division ( ISD) of NHS National Services Scotland was commissioned to provide relevant data analysis and intelligence. The detailed report prepared by ISD is a supplementary report co-published alongside the Public Holiday Review Report. It shows some of the available evidence in graphical format, drawn from national information sources, which illustrate aspects of health and social care that are distinctive during extended public holiday periods. Specifically, it quantifies demand for health and social care at occasions when a weekend is prolonged into extended public holidays such as Christmas, New Year or Easter.

The following main findings are further elucidated in the ISD supplementary report:

  • There are differences in the pattern of service activity for many care services over the course of four-day public holidays compared with a typical weekend.
  • The changes in use of the different service types are most evident during the Christmas and New Year holiday periods. Although service pattern at Easter are similar to those occurring at Christmas and New Year holidays, they do not lead to the same pressures as the latter period, with two extended public holidays in close proximity.
  • Due to the increase in demand, the time it takes to see patients during these holidays takes up one hour longer at Primary Care Out of Hours services ( PC OOH) and up to 30 minutes in Accident and Emergency services during these holidays.
  • The demand for the Scottish Ambulance Service ( SAS) in the early hours of New Years day is particularly high.
  • NHS 24 and PC OOH see up to a 60% increase in demand for their services on days three and four of the Christmas and New Year public holidays
  • There is variation in the average length of stay according to the day of the week that people are admitted to hospital in the period around the Christmas and New Year holiday. This variation occurs throughout the rest of the year. Compared with the period either side of the festive holidays, a patient admitted as an emergency on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve can expect to be in hospital around 1 day longer on average.
  • Information from a sample of local authorities suggests a big reduction in new home care packages starting during an extended period of several weeks from Christmas Eve onwards


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