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Responding to Non Covid-19 Identification of Deterioration in Children

Blog posted by: Verity Mather Project Manager, Patient Safety & Care Improvement Team, 11 October 2021.

When I heard about this project it was an ideal opportunity for me both personally and professionally.  I’ve spent 18 years working as a nurse in acute hospital settings and making a difference to patients is why I went into nursing. I think there are few opportunities more rewarding than improving the way in which we can look after children and young people.

We in the Innovation Agency are delighted to be supporting the delivery of the NHS System-wide Paediatric Observations Tracking (SPOT) programme. A consistent and common language approach, to promptly recognise and respond to the unwell infant, child or young person. It builds on our existing work around the National Early Warning Score (NEWS2). This work has standardised the approach to acute deterioration in adults.

Did you know that at present, there is no single nationally validated system for recognising and responding to deterioration for children and young people in England? The call for a universal Paediatric Early Warning Score (PEWS) has escalated in recent years by clinicians, coroners, regulators and families. The Innovation Agency’s ambition in supporting the SPOT programme is to reduce deterioration associated harm in children and young people.

NHS England & Improvement have been working with the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health and the Royal College of Nursing to standardise the new PEWS charts across all NHS systems. The SPOT programme will run for three years with system wide engagement spanning acute in-patient areas, emergency departments and primary care settings.  

At the Innovation Agency, the Patient Safety & Care Improvement Team are supporting pilot sites across the North West Coast in implementing the new PEWS. Currently, almost all hospitals use a form of PEWS, but this is not standardised across all NHS systems.  Our Coaching Academy team offers a range of quality improvement, human factors and coaching guidance. This will enable the pilot sites in adopting the new PEWS as a local improvement process. 

We know that children and young people are a unique population group with specific needs. The SPOT programme will not only capture the physical observations of a deteriorating child, it will focus on the voice of the families and carers as well as healthcare staff when raising instinctive concerns about deterioration. 

We have pledged at the Innovation Agency to use the Public Health England Health Equity Assessment Tool (HEAT).  A practical framework which will systematically address health inequalities and equity related to this programme of work. This will support us in identifying what action can be taken to engage with hard to reach communities across the North West Coast.

The testing of the new PEWS is imminent across in-patient settings within the North West Coast pilot sites. We’re about to share news of this to our local network and you are welcome to join us on the October 18th 12-13:30pm

Information and resources to support this piece of work can be found here.

For more information please contact Verity Mather Project Manager, Patient Safety & Care Improvement Team


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