Exeter – 1975

Report on the First Meeting held in Exeter, United Kingdom, 1st-2nd September 1975
Edited by Duncan Boldy, Chairman of the Working Group, May 1976


In January 1975 the first European Congress on Operations Research (EURO 1) was held in Brussels. EURO 1 marked the establishment of a European Association of Operational Research (O.R.) Societies and the creation of a number of European working groups, one of which being O.R. Applied to Health Services. The broad aim of this working group is to promote co-operation between European O.R. Scientists engaged to work in the health services.

The first meeting of that working group was held in September 1975 in Exeter, England, attended by 14 representatives, covering the countries of Denmark, Germany (West), Greece, Ireland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

A total of six sessions were held over the 1 days of the meeting. The first two sessions were devoted to reviews of health O.R. applications within each country represented, set within the context of an outline of each countrys health system. Papers were presented covering five of the six countries represented, together with a short verbal account covering Ireland. In the ensuing discussion, attempts were made to identify the main differences and similarities between the different health systems and to establish their implications for health O.R. studies.

The third session concentrated on health service objectives and their implications for health O.R studies. Dr. Clemens Dietrich presented a paper which outlined a methodology for developing a hierarchy of objectives. This morphological method was developed within the context of cost-benefit analysis and was claimed to be a valuable pre-requisite for successful implementation of the results of such a study. One particular point of debate concerned the extent to which an O.R. scientist could expect the objectives to be made sufficiently explicit. Also in the third session, Dr. Aris Sissouras outlined a framework for the application and implementation of health O.R studies, stressing in particular the need for O.R. studies of the effectiveness of programmes of health care.

In the fourth session, Dr. Richard Gibbs presented a paper entitled Some Consequences of the More Intensive Use of Hospital Beds. The paper argues that the trend in England and Wales of a shorter average length of stay for acute hospital cases is likely to continue. Based on this premise, choices will be required between treating more patients or closing beds. Some ways in which the resource consequences of these options can be quantified were presented and discussed.

The final two sessions concentrated on defining the objectives of the working group, its future activities, meetings etc. Three main objectives or roles for the working group were proposed, namely:

  1. The co-ordination and dissemination of information concerning health O.R. work in Europe,
  2. The organisation of European seminars on specific health O.R. topics,
  3. The setting up of joint European health O.R. projects.

In the discussion which followed, it was agrees that all three roles were feasible objectives for the working group to adopt and that they were more or less linked sequentially in the order listed.

Footnote: Extracts from Health Services in Europe, Regional Office for Europe, W.H.C., 1975, were used as a common source of data for the background information sections of the review papers of different countries.

Review Papers

  1. Outline of the Health and Social Services of the United Kingdom and a Review of Current Operational Research Projects – R.W. Canvin.
  2. The Health System of the Federal Republic of Germany and the use of O.R. – K. Hansen and W. Rieger.
  3. The Dutch Health Care System and a Review of O.R. as applied to Health – J.H. van Aert.
  4. The Structure of the Danish Health System and the use of O.R. within it – Arne Mylleager Frederiksen.
  5. Greeces Health Care System and the use of O.R. – A Sissouras.
  6. Some Comparative Information on Health Care Systems in Different Countries and the Application of Operational Research – Duncan Boldy.

List of Participants

  • Dr. Duncan Boldy (Chairman) – United Kingdom
  • Mr. Reginald Canvin – United Kingdom
  • Miss Felicity Carter – United Kingdom
  • Dr. David Clayden – United Kingdom
  • Dr. Clemens Dietrich – Germany
  • Mr. Arne Frederiksen – Denmark
  • Dr. Richard Gibbs – United Kingdom
  • Dr. Klaus Hansen – Germany
  • Mr. Patrick Herlhy – Ireland
  • Mr. Michael Norris – United Kingdom
  • Mr. Wolfgang Reiger – Germany
  • Dr. Aris Sissouras – Greece
  • Mr. Patrick Taylor – United Kingdom
  • Mr. Joseph van Aert – The Netherlands