Background Variations in ambient temperature change have been shown to affect people living with specific conditions. However there has been no study into whether changes in ambient temperature are appreciable through an accident and emergency (A&E) department for all causes. We hypothesised that changes in ambient temperature would impact on admissions through accident and emergency.
Methods We collated data from type one Accident and Emergency departments within two trusts from NHS England who provided weekly attendance and admission figures for 2013. Temperature data was obtained from accuweather.com; we converted their daily figures into weekly averages to be comparable with the A&E data. The A&E departments selected were Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust (LTHT) comprising the Leeds General Infirmary and St James’. We also collected data for admissions via type one A&E at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) comprising Royal Sussex County and the Princess Royal. LTHT and BSUH were selected as they both provide type one A&E departments and have major trauma centres. They were selected to include both the north and south of the country and a mix of socio-economic groups as well as rural and urban areas. We used linear regression analysis of data using Stata. We compared the weekly percentage change in admissions with the temperature change in degrees.
Results The results show a small but significant association between ambient temperature change and admissions. For BSUH a one degree change in temperature was associated with a 0.90% increase in admissions (95% CI 0.52–1.3). For LTHT a 1 degree change in temperature was associated with a 0.98% change in admissions (95% CI 0.49–1.5).
Conclusion This study concentrated on two trusts admissions data for a single calendar year. It found that a decrease in ambient temperature was associated with an increase in admissions. We have therefore not been able to disprove our hypothesis. Further research is required to investigate a relationship at other trusts and over a wider time period. A wider association between temperature change and admissions rates would be of use in planning care. Advance forecasts could give an indication for changes in demand for staff and resources.
- accident and emergency (A