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Found 49 results
  1. News Article
    NHS England is in talks about changing a pathway for women with breast problems after performance against the two-week target for them to be seen plummeted. HSJ understands discussions are ongoing between NHS England and the Association of Breast Surgery about changing the symptomatic breast pathway for some patients. This has been prompted by concerns that one stop breast clinics – which take those referred both via the symptomatic route and the standard two-week pathway for suspected cancer – are being flooded with very low risk patients, potentially meaning those at higher risk of cancer wait longer for tests and diagnosis. The symptomatic pathway, which is for patients where cancer is not initially suspected by their GP, was introduced in 2010 because only about half of diagnosed breast cancers were being referred on the normal two-week pathway. The national target is for 93% of patients to be seen within two weeks. However, since 2018-19, national performance against this has reduced from 85.8% to 64.1% last year. There are concerns the pathway has led to too many patients being referred for diagnostic procedures which are inappropriate for their symptoms, preventing those who are more in need of such tests from accessing them in a timely manner. Association of Breast Surgery president Chris Holcombe said: “GPs tend to be quite cautious and send most people along even if the risk is quite small. We will get patients who are 25 and, to be honest, before they come to clinic, I could tell you with 99 per cent certainty they won’t have cancer. But they are worried as anything.” Alternatives to the symptomatic breast pathway which could reduce pressure on one stop clinics and also offer patients a better service are now being evaluated, he said. “There are appropriate ways to see these patients other than in a very high resource clinic,” he added. “But they still need to be seen and seen quickly otherwise they will just bounce back into the one stop clinic.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 10 October 2022
  2. News Article
    Patients with suspected skin and breast cancer have experienced the largest increase in waiting times of everyone urgently referred to a cancer specialist, with 1 in 20 patients now facing the longest waits, analysis of NHS England data shows. Almost 10,000 patients referred by a GP to a cancer specialist had to wait for more than 28 days in July – double the supposed maximum 14-day waiting time. Three-quarters of them were suspected of having skin, breast or lower gastrointestinal cancer, a Guardian analysis has revealed. In total, 53,000 people in England waited more than two weeks to see a cancer specialist. That is 22% of all the patients urgently referred for a cancer appointment by their GPs. Minesh Patel, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said people were waiting “far too long for diagnosis or vital treatment”. Patients “are worried about the impact of these delays on their prognosis and quality of care”. “The NHS has never worked harder,” said Matt Sample, the policy manager at Cancer Research UK, but patients dealing with long waits “reflects a broader picture of some of the worst waits for tests and treatments on record”. “When just a matter of weeks can be enough for some cancers to progress, this is unacceptable.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 October 2022
  3. News Article
    Multiple failures by the NHS 111 telephone advice service early in the pandemic left Covid patients struggling to get care and led directly to some people dying, an investigation has found. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) looked into the help that NHS 111 gave people with Covid in the weeks before and after the UK entered its first lockdown on 23 March 2020. It identified a series of weaknesses with the helpline, including misjudgment of how seriously ill some people with Covid were, a failure to tell some people to seek urgent help, and a lack of capacity to deal with a sudden spike in calls. It also raised concerns that the government’s advice to citizens to “stay at home” to protect NHS services deterred people who needed immediate medical attention from seeking it from GPs and hospitals, sometimes with fatal consequences. Mistakes identified by HSIB included that: The CRS algorithm did not allow for the assessment of any life-threatening illness a caller had – such as obesity, cancer or lung disease – to establish whether they should undergo a clinical assessment. When many callers reached the core 111 service, there was no way to divert them as intended to the CRS, which was operationally independent of 111. Although patients who had Covid-19 symptoms as well as underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, were meant to be assessed when they spoke to the core 111 service, some were not. The number of extra calls to 111 in March 2020 meant that only half were answered. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 29 September 2022
  4. News Article
    A 27-year-old man died from complications linked to diabetes after GPs failed to properly investigate his rapidly deteriorating health. Lugano Mwakosya died on 3 October 2020 from diabetic ketoacidosis, a build-up of toxic acids in the blood arising from low insulin levels, two days before he could see a GP in person. His mother, Petronella Mwasandube, believes his death could have been avoided if doctors at Strensham Road Surgery, in Birmingham, had given “adequate consideration” to Lugano’s diabetic history and offered face-to-face appointments following phone consultations on 31 July and 16 and 30 September. An independent review commissioned by NHS England found two doctors who spoke to Lugano did not take into account his diabetes or “enquire in detail and substantiate the actual cause of the patient’s symptoms”. The review raised concern over the “quality and brevity” of the phone assessments and said the surgery should have offered Lugano an in-person appointment sooner. Read full story Source: The Independent, 7 August 2022
  5. News Article
    A quadriplegic man was told his care funding would be revoked, after NHS officials deemed him not disabled enough to qualify for support. Simon Shaw, 54, has received 24-hour care since he was left paralysed from the neck down after a car accident in 1984. He relies on carers at night to help him with everything from turning in bed to having a drink of water. They also intervene with medical aid if he develops life-threatening complications related to his paralysis, which could happen at any time, without warning. But a recent NHS assessment controversially ruled Shaw’s health needs were not severe enough to warrant full-time medical care. Local health authority officials told him he did not meet eligibility criteria and his NHS funding would be stopped from 20 June. Shaw, from Clapham, south London, said that meant there was no money for his night-time care and he would be left unsupported from 8pm to 8am for the first time in nearly four decades. “It’s frightening, to be honest,” Shaw said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when they take my care away. “I don’t cease to exist after 8pm. I still need to get into bed, have a drink of water and use the toilet – and I can’t do any of it on my own. “There are a lot of things that can go wrong with my health and when they do, they usually need urgent attention. If there’s no one there, to be frank… it could mean death.” Mandy Jamieson, a caseworker for the Spinal Injuries Association, said: “We have noticed an increase in patients with severe disabilities being turned down for funding in recent years, particularly since the introduction of assessments via video call since the pandemic. “But I feel particularly in Simon’s case the decision that has been made is wrong. He has so many health needs that I find it incredible that they turned him down.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 June 2022
  6. News Article
    An 80-year-old woman with coeliac disease died within days of being fed Weetabix in hospital, an inquest has heard. Hazel Pearson, from Connah’s Quay in Flintshire, was being treated at Wrexham Maelor hospital and died four days later on 30 November from aspiration pneumonia. Although her condition was recorded on her admission documents, there was no sign beside her bed to alert healthcare assistants to her dietary requirements. Coeliac disease is a condition where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues after consuming gluten, a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley, causing damage to the small intestine. The hospital’s action plan to avoid similar fatal incidents lacked detail and had “narrow vision”, the coroner said. The hospital’s matron, Jackie Evans, told the inquest that changes, including placing signs above the beds of patients with special dietary requirements, had been implemented since Pearson’s death. But Sutherland raised concerns that the hospital had yet to carry out a formal investigation into what went wrong. She said: “The action plan lacks detail. What has happened locally is commendable, but it lacks detail and it has narrow vision.” She added that the plan that had been put in place was “amateurish with no strategic vision”. The assistant coroner said she would be unable to make a decision on a prevention of future deaths report until the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) provided a witness to answer further questions about changes. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 17 June 2022
  7. Event
    The Professional Records Standard Body (PRSB) are holding a workshop on 4 March to help us develop a shared decision-making standard, so that individuals can be more involved in the decisions that affect their health, care and wellbeing. The online workshop will bring together health and care professionals, patients and system vendors to focus on different topics including diabetes and other long-term conditions, mental health, child health, gynaecology, colorectal cancer, genetic conditions, multi-medications and orthopaedics. We will be asking questions about the way information about treatment and care options are discussed and decisions recorded. This would include consent for treatment, when it is agreed, and any pre-operative assessments and requirements. By standardising the process, it will ensure that information can be shared consistently using any digital systems. If you’re interested in getting involved in the project, please contact info@theprsb.org
  8. Content Article
    The guidelines offer updated guidance on the diagnosis, assessment, care and management of patients with PDOC. They support doctors, families and health service commissioners to ensure that everyone is aware of their legal and ethical responsibilities. The guidelines cover: Definitions and terminology of PDOC. Techniques for assessment, diagnosis and review. Care pathways from acute to long-term management. The ethical and medico-legal framework for decision-making. Practical decision-making regarding starting or continuing life-sustaining treatments, including CANH, and management of end-of-life care for PDOC patients. Service organisation and commissioning.
  9. Content Article
    We have a new app within Homerton which is featured on the hub. The Homerton University Hospital (HUH) Action Card App is an initiative that aims to bridge the gap between information/processes with clinical members of staff without the need to log into a computer, access the intranet, and finding the long black and white document which is never ending. The Action Card App has easy to read, 1-page coloured documents relating to local and national/local incident trends and Never Events. We entered the Patient Safety Learning Awards on the back of seeing the hub and finding content on there that was incredibly useful on a day to day basis. We genuinely weren't expecting to hear anything back from the Patient Safety Learning team as we are a small trust that not a lot of people know about, and we thought the standard of patient safety initiatives would be high, with many trusts miles ahead of us. I have to say, the team at Patient Safety Learning were nothing but lovely, from the moment the conversation started about the prospect of entering the awards. They all took the time for correspondence and they treated you as a person, as oppose to an entry. When we got the information that we had won the overall prize, we were gobsmacked and elated. The app team were overjoyed with the sense that our hard work had paid off and someone had taken the time to appreciate the work we have been doing at Homerton. We were asked to prepare a presentation prior to the awards, which showcased our work and to share with the attendees of the conference. The day arrived, with so much great work, inspiring talks and a general atmosphere of wanting to do more to keep our patients safe. I would like to thank everyone who heard our presentation (some may say performance) and thank everyone in the Patient Safety Learning team for their help with this process.
  10. Content Article
    My much loved daughter-in-law, Mariana Pinto, died on 16 October 2016. She was 32. Her tragic and unexpected death raised many questions for us about standard practice by psychiatric services and about patient safety. The evening before she died, Mariana was taken by ambulance to her local A&E department, escorted by four police officers, and handcuffed for her own safety. She was psychotic – delusional, paranoid, violent and very distressed. She had attacked her husband (my son) who had visible bite marks, scratches and bruises. It was a first episode and totally out of character. She had not eaten or slept for several days. In A&E she was brought food and drink but spat it out, believing it to be poisoned. She kept trying to escape from the cubicle. The police stayed, stating that she was extremely vulnerable. Eventually she agreed to take a sedative – but not before she had held it under her tongue for some time, and only after we, her family, were able to persuade her that she should take it. Once she was finally sedated, she was given various tests to rule out any physical cause, and a mental health act assessment. This was done with her and her husband together. There was no attempt to see him separately. She was deemed competent to make decisions about her care, and as she wanted to go home, was discharged, with a referral to the local Crisis Team, who we were told would receive the referral at 8 am the following morning and would arrange to visit. The psychiatric team operate within A&E but for a separate mental health trust. This same trust runs the Crisis Team. It is deemed outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The following morning, there was no contact from the Crisis Team. My son rang them at midday to ask when they would visit. They said normally between 5 and 7 pm on Sundays and to ring back if he needed to. He rang back at 3.30 pm stating that she had deteriorated rapidly and asking for the visit to be brought forward. He was told that it could not be. At 4.00 pm Mari ran out of the open door to the roof terrace and jumped off it. She did not survive her injuries. The Coroner gave a narrative verdict, making it clear that Mariana did not know what she was doing, though her actions were deliberate. She also gave a Prevention of Future Deaths Report. Whilst the trust is obliged to reply, there is no statutory obligation to demonstrate that the actions they have promised have actually been taken. There was no attempt at any risk assessment. There was no attempt to check that my son could speak freely (he could not – it was a studio apartment). There was no attempt to call the emergency services on his behalf, and no attempt to check he had been able to do so. None of this is regarded as negligent or especially problematic. Since her death the Crisis Team do visit on Sunday mornings. We also found out that the number we were given to call was for service users already allocated a key worker, rather than a more general number – but as my son spoke to senior staff on each call, this should not have made a difference. After her death we raised the following questions: Surely given the bite marks and bruising, her husband should have been allowed to give his information to the psychiatric team separately? No, it turns out that while this would have been good practice, it was not negligent. Surely, given that her family knew and loved her, we should have been asked post sedation if she seemed like herself (she did not). No, it turns out that this is not seen as necessary. It’s not even regarded as good practice. Surely, given that she was paranoid and had told the police that she did not trust her husband, her husband should have been given private space to discuss the discharge and rehearse what to do if things went wrong once the sedative wore off? And surely we should have been told that the Crisis Team is not instead of calling 999 in an emergency. And efforts made to help us to decide if the situation was an emergency. No, it turns out that while this would have been good practice, it was not negligent. The mental health trust has now introduced a written discharge template for care and contingency planning. We have been told that the circumstances of Mariana’s death were unusual and could not have been foretold. That may be. But there are still lessons to be learnt. To improve patient safety in mental health crisis and to learn from deaths, we need to change standard practice. It should become standard to: See family and friends separately if someone is paranoid, to understand the family’s concerns, learn more about the patient and work together to consider how best the patient can be kept safe and helped. Provide written care and contingency plans to patients and their family Use one number for a Crisis Team helpline, with clear policies to offer help and support to service users and to their carers, and proper protocols in place to assess risk and intervene if someone is at immediate risk of harm. Make it very clear to patients that a referral to a Crisis Team is not a substitute for calling 999 in an emergency (where there is an immediate risk of harm to the patient or others) and to distinguish between a crisis and an emergency. Other professionals have a role in this too: On discharge, the A&E staff (who were very kind and very concerned) could invite the family to come back if the situation deteriorates, making it clear that it was an emergency, was a legitimate use of 999 and of A&E, and that the Crisis Teams are not for emergencies. The police could do the same, if they are trusted by the family (in many cases they are not).
  11. Content Article
    Following a review of the events that led up to Amy’s death Great Ormond Street Hospital have already made changes to practice: They have improved the way clinical information is shared between different specialist teams, to make sure staff have as comprehensive a picture as possible when making complex decisions about a patient’s treatment. They now use a single log-in electronic patient record system which means staff can quickly access clinical information about a patient and have the right information at the right time, rather than routinely having to use multiple systems. They have improved consultant availability. This means there is more consultant time for each patient being looked after in our paediatric intensive care unit. They have introduced a new process to make sure the care of patients, like Amy, who have both complex spinal and heart conditions is routinely considered by the hospital’s specialist joint cardiology committee.
  12. Content Article
    So, what does it feel like working in chronically depleted staffing levels? "We are down three nurses today" – this is what I usually hear when I turn up for a shift. It has become the norm. We work below our template, usually daily, so much so that when we are fully staffed, we are expected to work on other wards that are ‘three nurses down’. Not an uncommon occurrence to hear at handover on a busy 50-bedded medical ward. No one seems to bat an eyelid; you may see people sink into their seat, roll their eyes or sigh, but this is work as usual. ‘Three nurses down’ has been the norm for months here, staff here have adapted to taking up the slack. Instead of taking a bay of six patients, the side rooms are added on making the ratio 1:9 or sometimes 1:10, especially at night. This splitting up the workload has become common practice on many wards. "That was a good shift" – no one died when they were not supposed to, I gave the medications, I documented care that we gave, I filled out all the paperwork that I am supposed to, I completed the safety checklists. Sounds a good shift? Thinking of Erik Hollnagel’s ‘work as done, work as imagined’ (Wears, Hollnagel & Braithwaite, 2015) – this shift on paper looks as if it was a ‘good shift’ but in fact: Medications were given late; some were not given at all as the pharmacy order went out late because we had a patient that fell. Care that was given was documented – most of the personal care is undertaken by the healthcare assistants (HCA) now and verbally handed over during the day – bowel movements, mobility, hygiene, mouth care, nutrition and hydration. As a nurse, I should be involved in these important aspects of my patients’ care, but I am on the phone sorting out Bed 3’s discharge home, calling the bank office to cover sickness, attending to a complaint by a relative. It’s being attended to by the HCA – so it's sorted? I have documented, probably over documented which has made me late home. I’m fearful of being reprimanded for the fall my patient had earlier on. This will be investigated and they will find out using my documentation what happened. The safety checklists have been completed for all my patients; comfort rounds, mouth care, falls proforma, bed rails assessment, nutritional score, cannular care plan, catheter care plan, delirium score, swallow test, capacity test, pre op assessments, pre op checklists, safe ward round checklist, NEWS charting, fluid balance charting and stool charting… the list is endless. Management have made things easier with the checklist ‘if it’s not written down it didn’t happen’ so now we can ‘tick’ against the check list rather than writing copious notes. However, I cut corners to enable me to complete all my tasks, some ticks are just ‘ticks’ when no work has been completed. No one would know this shift would they? What looks as if it has been a ‘good shift’ for the nurse, has often been the opposite for the patients and their family. There is a large body of research showing that low nurse staffing levels are associated with a range of adverse outcomes, notably mortality (Griffiths et al, 2018; Recio-Saucedo et al, 2018). What is the safest level of staff to care for patients? Safe staffing levels have been a long-standing mission of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)/Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in recent years. In the UK at present, nurse staffing levels are set locally by individual health providers. The Department of Health and professional organisations such as the RCN have recommended staffing levels for some care settings but there is currently no compliance regime or compulsion for providers to follow these when planning services (Royal College of Nursing 2019). I was surprised to find that there are no current guidelines on safe staffing within our healthcare system. It left me wondering… is patient safety a priority within our healthcare system? It seems not. While the debate and fight continues for safe staffing levels, healthcare staff continue to nurse patients without knowing what is and isn’t safe. Not only are the patients at risk and the quality of care given, but the registration of that nurse is also at risk. What impact does low staffing have on patients and families? ‘What matters to them’ does not get addressed. I shall never forget the time a relative asked me to get a fresh sheet for their elderly mother as there was a small spillage of soup on it. I said yes, but soon forgot. In the throes of medication and ward rounds, being called to the phone for various reasons, answering call buzzers, writing my documentation, making sure Doris doesn't climb out of bed again, escorting patients to and from the CT scanner, transferring patients to other wards – I forgot. My elderly patients’ daughter was annoyed, I remember she kept asking and I kept saying "in a minute", this made matters worse. She got annoyed, so that I ended up avoiding her altogether. How long does it take to give her the sheet? Five minutes tops, so why not get the sheet? MY priority was the tasks for the whole ward, tasks that are measured and audited on how well the ward performs by the Trust; filling out the observations correctly, adhering to the escalation policy, completing the 20 page safety booklet, completing the admission paperwork, ensuring everyone had their medication on time, making sure no one fell – changing a sheet with a small spot of soup on it was not on my priority list. It was a priority for my patients’ family. My patient was elderly, frail and probably wouldn’t get out of hospital alive this time. Her daughter was the only family she had left. It’s no wonder families feel that they are not listened to, are invisible, are getting in the way and not valued. These feelings do not encourage a healthy relationship between patients/families and healthcare workers. Studies have shown that involving patients and families in care is vital to ensure patient safety. Patients and their relatives have the greatest knowledge of patients and can often pick up subtle signs physiological deterioration before this is identified by staff or monitoring systems (O’dell et al, 2011). If our relationship is strained, how can we, as nurses, advocate for the safety of our patients? So, what impact does low staffing have on the staff member? "Fully staffed today!" The mood lifts at handover. People are sat up, smiling, quiet excitable chatter is heard. This uplifting sentence is quickly followed by either: "Let’s keep this quiet" or "someone will be moved" or "someone will have to move to XX ward as they are down three nurses". Morale is higher when wards are fully staffed. The mood is different. There are people to help with patient care, staff can take their breaks at reasonable times, staff may be able to get home on time and there is emotional support given by staff to other staff – a camaraderie. The feeling does not last long. Another department is ‘three nurses down’. Someone must move to cover the shortfall. No one wants to go When you get moved, you often get given the ‘heavy’ or ‘confused’ patients. Not only that, you are working with a different team with different dynamics – you are an outsider. This makes speaking up difficult, asking for help difficult, everything is difficult: the ward layout, where equipment is stored, where to find documentation, drugs are laid out differently in the cupboard, the clinical room layout is not the same. The risk of you getting something wrong has increased; this is a human factors nightmare, the perfect storm. I am in fear of losing my PIN (NMC registration) at times. At some point I am going to make a mistake. I can’t do the job I have been trained to do safely. The processes that have been designed to keep me and my patients safe are not robust. If anything, it is to protect the safety and reputation of the Trust, that’s what it feels like. Being fully staffed is a rarity. Being moved to a different department happens, on some wards more than others. Staff dread coming to work for threat of being moved into a different specialty. Just because you trained to work on a respiratory, doesn’t mean you can now work on a gynae ward. We are not robots you can move from one place to another. I can see that moving staff is the best option to ensure efficiency; but at what cost? Another problem in being chronically short staffed is that it becomes the norm. We have been ‘coping’ with three nurses down for so long, that ‘management’ look at our template. Is the template correct, we could save money here? If we had written guidance on safe staffing levels, we still have the problem of recruitment and retention of staff; there are not enough of us to go around. Thoughts please... Does this resonate with you? Has anyone felt that they feel ‘unsafe’ giving care? What power do we have as a group to address this issue of safe staffing levels? References 1. Wears RL, Hollnagel E, Braithwaite J, eds. The Resilience of Everyday Clinical Work. 2015. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. 2. Griffiths P et al. The association between nurse staffing and omissions in nursing care: a systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2018: 74 (7): 1474-1487. 3. Recio-Saucedo A et al. What impact does nursing care left undone have on patient outcomes? Review of the literature. Journal of Clinical Nursing 2018; 27(11-12): 2248-2259. 4. O’dell M et al. Call 4 Concern: patient and relative activated critical care outreach. British Journal of Nursing 2001; 19 (22): 1390-1395.
  13. Content Article
    Key outcomes UTI hospital admissions reduced by 36% in the four pilot care homes (150 residents). UTIs requiring antibiotics reduced by 58%. The gap between UTIs increased from an average of nine days in the baseline period to 80 days in the implementation and sustainability phase. One residential home was UTI-free for 243 consecutive days. Similar outcomes noted in pilot 2 care homes (215 residents).
  14. Content Article
    Coroner's concerns The NHS 111 telephone triage service uses the NHS Pathways computer system to triage patients via pre-determined question/answer based algorithms. The pre-determined questions are the same whether the caller is an adult or a child. Alex struggled to comprehend some of the medical terminology used during these calls. Call handlers are not permitted to deviate from the prescribed wording of the pre-determined questions, and this created confusion and inconsistency in the patient’s answers. Consideration should be given as to how young and/or vulnerable patients can be assisted to provide accurate information about their symptoms. The NHS Pathways algorithm for triaging vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms is unclear as patients may fail to understand what is meant by ‘soil’ or ‘coffee ground’ vomit. Consideration should be given to how this important diagnostic feature can be explored during telephone triage, especially when the patient is young and/or vulnerable. The NHS 111 telephone triage service provides an electronic copy of the patient triage notes to the patient’s GP within minutes of the call ending. There was a delay of 7 days in the GP surgery uploading the 111 triage document to Alex’s patient record. This prevented Alex’s GP from reviewing the triage note prior to his consultation with the patient. There is no guidance as to expected practise with regards to the timely updating of electronic patient records, and as a result delays are all too frequent. Adults presenting to their GP or Emergency Department with abdominal symptoms receive a lipase and/or amylase blood test as part of the standard package of blood testing. The levels of each of these enzymes can be used to diagnose pancreatitis. Patients under the age of 18 years are not offered this testing as standard, on the basis that pancreatitis is rare in paediatric patients. The coroner heard anecdotal evidence of some doctors at Kingsmill Hospital now add this test to the standard admission bloods for older teenage patients who present with non-specific abdominal symptoms but the NICE guidance (September 2018) is not explicit in this regard. Consideration ought to be given to a national approach for lipase/amylase testing in young people with relevant symptoms. Patients who make an unscheduled return to the Emergency Department within 72 hours of discharge are required to have a review undertaken by an ED Consultant, or a ST4 trainee or above in the absence of a Consultant on the ‘shop floor’: RCEM Guidance June 2016. Some hospitals will admit returning paediatric patients for observations but practise seems to vary doctor-to-doctor and across Trusts. Consideration ought to be given to a national approach.
  15. Content Article
    Coroner's concerns Without changes in the NHS Pathway the 111 call handlers will not be adequately assisted by the Pathways to recognise the acutely unwell child, in particular: at the time of the conclusion of the inquest, there was no question within the NHS Pathways questionnaire concerning cold hands and feet for children aged over five at the time of the conclusion of the inquest, the question regarding green vomit, asked in respect to children over five, had an inappropriately high threshold (that is required severe pain for more than four hours before the question was engaged) and would not have been activated in Sebastian's case there is no indication that NHS Pathways/NHS Digital have reviewed the support arrangements for non-clinically qualified advisers to refer unusual cases to clinically qualified staff at the time of the conclusion of the inquest, NHS Pathways' questions did not allow meaningful assessment of pain in a child; that is to say questions about severity of pain and the ability of a child to communicate such pain should be reviewed at national governance level.
  16. Content Article
    Matters of Concerns: Children-particularly small infants do not present like adults when they are very unwell. Nor can they articulate their symptoms in a way that lends itself to prescribed pathway questions and answers and they are not in front of the staff handling the calls who therefore rely on parents for information. Whilst since this event there have been steps to provide training of staff at 111 and Out of Hours services and NHS Digital have reworked the pathways to deal with multiplicity of symptoms there are still concerns re what further steps may be taken regrading cases involving children and infants. Evidence given at the Inquest was that about 20% of calls to both services relate to sick children. There should therefore be robust systems in place to prevent sick children going without potentially lifesaving treatment. Steps should include: Mandatory annual training for all staff on recognising and interpreting signs and symptoms for all staff taking calls needs to be put in place. A suitably qualified paediatric specialist clinician should be available to discuss or review such cases at all times. The default position and precautionary advice should be- if in doubt call an ambulance.
  17. News Article
    A father whose son took his own life in July 2020 is calling for an "urgent overhaul" of the way some counsellors and therapists assess suicide risk. His son Tom had died a day after being judged "low risk", in a final counselling session, Philip Pirie said. A group of charities has written to the health secretary, saying the use of a checklist-type questionnaire to predict suicide risk is "fundamentally flawed". The government says it is now drawing up a new suicide-prevention strategy. According to the latest official data, 6,211 people in the UK killed themselves in 2020. It is the most common cause of death in 20-34-year-olds. And of the 17 people each day, on average, who kill themselves, five are in touch with mental health services and four of those five are assessed as "low" or "no risk", campaigners say. Tom Pirie, a young teacher from Fulham, west London, had been receiving help for mental-health issues. He had repeatedly told counsellors about his suicidal thoughts - but the day before he had killed himself, a psychotherapist had judged him low risk, his father said. Tom's assessment had been based on "inadequate" questionnaires widely used despite guidelines saying they should not be to predict suicidal behaviour, Philip said. The checklists, which differ depending on the clinicians and NHS trusts involved, typically ask patients questions about their mental health, such as "Do you have suicidal thoughts?" or "Do you have suicidal intentions?" At the end of the session, a score can be generated - placing the individual at low, medium or high risk of suicide, or rating the danger on a scale between 1 and 10. Read full story Source: BBC News, 20 April 2022
  18. News Article
    NHS England’s plan to make the 111 service a ‘primary route’ into emergency departments has fallen ‘far short of aspiration’, with only a small fraction of attendances being booked through it. NHSE began recording the numbers of ED appointments booked via 111 in August 2020, as it aimed to reduce unnecessary attendances and demand on emergency services, via the programme known as “111 First”. Planning guidance for 2021-22 told local systems to “promote the use of NHS 111 as a primary route into all urgent care services”. It added that at least 70% of patients referred to ED by 111 services should receive a booked time slot to attend. Pilots experimented with making it harder for people who had not called 111 to attend A&E, although proposals to direct those people away were rejected. Data published by NHSE shows the number of ED attendances that were booked through 111, but not those referred to ED without a booking. Jacob Lant, head of policy and research at Healthwatch England, said: “Sadly, it’s clear from these figures that implementation across the country is lagging behind where we would have hoped. “Obviously this has to be seen in the context of the massive pressures on A&E departments at the moment as a result of the pandemic, but there is also a need for the NHS to really step up efforts to tell people about this new way of accessing care.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: 25 February 2022
  19. News Article
    Callers to NHS 111 services are twice as likely to be judged as needing an ambulance in some regions as others – and up to eight times more likely to abandon their calls. An HSJ investigation has revealed striking differences in performance between 111 providers. The new integrated urgent care data set, published by NHS England, shows the differences in performance across the country. HSJ analysed data from April to December last year – the first year this data set has been produced. For example, 15.7% of answered calls to North East Ambulance Service Foundation Trust resulted in an “ambulance disposition” while just 7.7% of calls to London Ambulance Service Trust did so. A total of 14.2% of callers to the privately owned Practice Plus Group were judged to require an ambulance. 41.9% of calls were abandoned before being answered by NEAS and 30.6% of those made to the West Midlands Ambulance Service University FT ended the same way. In contrast just 5.2%of callers from Lincolnshire to services provided by Derbyshire Health United abandoned their calls. The “standard” for abandoned calls is just 3%, but the average performance across England was 24.1%. In a statement, the Practice Plus Group said its staff were trained to a high standard on NHS Pathways and it was confident its staff were making appropriate and safe decisions. Over 70 per cent of decisions to instigate a category 3 or 4 ambulance callout were validated in January. As a result ambulances were dispatched in just 20 per cent of those cases, with other patients being directed to alternative pathways. “We are always looking to enhance the service which is why we are running developmental training for our call handlers in more effective probing to reduce the category 2 ambulance disposition numbers and have introduced GoodSam video technology as part of an NHSE pilot which will support clinicians with eyes on with a patient,” the company added. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 18 February 2022
  20. News Article
    GPs should regularly review self-harm patients and offer a specific CBT intervention, according to a consultation on the first new guidance for self-harm to be drawn up in 11 years. The new draft guidance emphasises the importance of referring patients to specialist mental health services, but stresses that, for patients who are treated in primary care, continuity is crucial. If someone who has self-harmed is being treated in primary care, GPs must ensure regular follow-up appointments and reviews of self-harm behaviour, as well as a medicines review, the draft guideline say. They must also provide care for coexisting mental health issues, including referral to mental health services where appropriate, as well as information, social care, voluntary and non-NHS sector support and self-help resources. The guidance says that referring people to mental health services would ‘ensure people are in the most appropriate setting’. However, the committee agreed that ‘if people are being cared for in primary care following an episode of self-harm, there should be continuity of care and regular reviews of factors relating to their self-harm to ensure that the person who has self-harmed feels supported and engaged with services’. The draft guidance, out for consultation until 1 March, also says ambulance staff should suggest self-harming patients see their GP to maximise the chance of engagement with services. It says: ‘When attending a person who has self-harmed but who does not need urgent physical care, ambulance staff and paramedics should discuss with the person (and any relevant services) if it is possible for the person to be assessed or treated by an appropriate alternative service, such as a specialist mental health service or their GP.’ It notes that ‘ambulance staff often felt that the emergency department was not the preferred place that the person who had self-harmed wanted to be taken. They agreed that referral to alternative services could facilitate the person’s engagement with services’. Read full story Source: Pulse, 18 January 2022
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