UCLH to trial new care techniques in bid to reduce preventable deaths 

06/11/2015 00:00 
UCLH is one of eight new sites joining a flagship quality improvement programme which aims to reduce preventable death and error occurring in paediatric departments throughout the UK.

The £0.5m Situation Awareness for Everyone (S.A.F.E) programme, led by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), trials a suite of quality improvement techniques including the ‘huddle’ - a brief free, frank exchange of information between clinical and non-clinical professionals involved in a patient’s care – in a bid to encourage information sharing and to equip professionals with the skills to spot when a child’s condition is deteriorating as well as prevent missed diagnoses.

Funded as part of the Health Foundation’s Closing the Gap in Patient Safety programme, with additional support from WellChild and UCLPartners, the programme aims to:

  • Reduce avoidable error and harm to acutely sick children by 2016
  • Improve communication between all healthcare professionals involved in a child’s care as well as families to ensure treatment is consistent and of the same high standard regardless of postcode or class
  • Close the disparity in health outcomes for children in UK vs other countries as well as between children’s care and adult care
  • Involve parents, children and young people to be better involved in their children’s/own care

Dr Penny Salt, Consultant Paediatrician at UCLH, said: “With current estimates suggesting that in the UK we have around 2000 potentially avoidable deaths each year, there is a clear need to reduce avoidable error in childhood care, and so we are delighted to be welcoming this project to our Hospital.

“By using methods such as the Huddle, communication between our doctors, nurses, ward staff and therapists will improve and ensure that issues will be raised before becoming a risk.”

“The programme has already proved to be a success in its first phase and we are greatly looking forward to working with the RCPCH to help implement these techniques.”

Dr Peter Lachman, Clinical Lead for S.A.F.E and member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Currently, care delivered across paediatric departments in the UK is inconsistent. We hope that with the expansion of the SAFE programme, we have the potential to not only improve this but also the UK’s rankings in health outcomes for children in Western Europe – we are currently among the worst.

“Although causes of avoidable child mortality are complex, we know there is sometimes a delay in recognition amongst healthcare professionals to recognise the severity of illness. This coupled with variable quality of communication across professional boundaries, and with parent/patient communication, makes it clear that more needs to be done to address this. That’s where S.A.F.E can help.

“We hope that through the success of this programme at UCLH we will be able to roll it out wider so it not only improves the care of children, but improves the care delivered to adults in the UK and beyond.”

Find out more about S.A.F.E by visiting the RCPCH’s website.

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