Before Arrival at Hospital: Factors affecting timing of admission to hospital for children with serious infectious illness (The BeArH project).


Dr Sarah Neill, Dr Kim Woodbridge-Dodd and Natasha Bayes, Faculty of Health and Society, the University of Northampton.

Patients are invited to take part in a UK research study called Before Arrival at Hospital (BeArH). The purpose of the BeArH project is to identify factors affecting the timing of admission to hospital for children with serious infectious illness (such as sepsis, encephalitis, meningitis and pneumonia). This is a joint project involving parents, academics, clinicians and charity partners, and is being led by the University of Northampton and Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Infection is a major cause of childhood illness and death, in the UK and globally, in the first five years of life. Many of these deaths are avoidable as infections such as pneumonia, encephalitis and meningitis are treatable if treated in time. In the early stages of illness it is difficult to know which children will become seriously ill. Additionally, in the UK parents are expected to select a health service for the level of illness, putting pressure on parents to make a decision, during a potentially stressful time, about when to access health services and at what level. If health professionals are to prevent more avoidable child deaths, we need to know more about what affects the decisions that parents and professionals make when a child is sick before they are admitted to hospital.

Working with parents, the study aims to identify all the things that influence decisions that parents and professionals (e.g. health professional, charity support worker, healthcare assistant, student health professional) in order to develop strategies to try and make sure that children get help as quickly as possible when they have serious infectious illnesses in the future. For this study, they invite parents with a child who has been admitted to hospital with a serious infectious illness in the past (between 2012-2018, and aged 0-5 years at the time of hospital admission) to take part. The researchers hope to hear from both parents whose child recovered, and parents who tragically lost their child due to their infection, if you feel comfortable sharing your experience.

They invite you to take part in a focus group with us and several other parents, which will last around 60 minutes to 90 minutes. During the focus group parents will be asked to share their experiences from the time their child first showed signs of illness right through to their admission to hospital.  This may include discussion about what went well, and/or things that could have been better. They appreciate that it may not be easy to talk about these experiences, particularly if the outcome was not positive. The purpose of this project is to learn from people’s experiences, so that best practice can be shared and solutions found to the problems faced by parents and professionals. They therefore value your input to help improve the services offered to children with serious infectious illness.

If you are able to take part in a focus group, they will organise a date, time and location that works for everyone.

If you incur any travel or child care costs to enable you to take part, these can also be reimbursed.

If you are able to take part in a focus group or you have any questions about the BeArH project, please contact: 

Kim Woodbridge-Dodd (Researcher from the University of Northampton): [email protected], 01604 892980. 

Natasha Bayes (Research Assistant from the University of Northampton): [email protected], 01604 892784.

Dr. Sarah Neill (Project Coordinator from the University of Northampton):            [email protected]

Please also take a look at their study webpage and video for general information about the BeArH project: