Published on: 22 July 2020

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is in the running for an impressive four prestigious patient safety awards.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) Patient Safety Awards celebrate health and social care providers who demonstrate a safety first culture and help drive improvements in culture and quality across the NHS.

The Trust, in partnership with NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and All Together Better Sunderland (ATB), is among the finalists in the ‘Patient Safety Team of the Year’ category for a project which utilises digital technology to monitor the health of residents in 49 care homes across Sunderland.

The project involved the roll-out of the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) system, which is traditionally used in hospitals to identify how unwell a patient is and flag when their condition starts to deteriorate. The technology was rolled out in care homes to help staff observe residents’ vital signs and seek support from GPs, community services or hospital staff if the resident begins to show signs of becoming unwell. In March, the project was quickly accelerated to cover all care homes across the city in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with staff from the homes trained to monitor respiratory rate, oxygen level, blood pressure and temperature of residents.

Without this remote healthcare, it is likely that attendance to Emergency Departments would have been higher. The initial pilot involving just eight care homes found that the NEWS system resulted in estimated savings of £756,000 in reduced emergency department attendances and use of ambulance services.

The Trust’s own nursing staff, led by Charge Nurse Adam Remmer, provided the training in the use of NEWS for the care home staff and continue to provide them with education and support.

The work of the Trust’s paediatric team when looking after children with asthma resulted in recognition in two categories - ‘Best Health Tech Solution for Patient Safety’ and ‘Best Emerging Solution for Patient Safety’.

The electronic Paediatric Emergency Department Asthma Assessment Tool (PEDAAT) and care pathway is a finalist in the ‘Best Health Tech Solution’ category.  This digital innovation was developed at the Trust in line with the National Review of Asthma Deaths standards to provide high quality care and reduce the number of children who die from asthma-related complications.

The PEDAAT tool helps to identify children who are at high risk from asthma and struggling to manage their condition and allows them to be followed up at a dedicated nurse-led asthma clinic.

This work is part of the BeatAsthma+ health promotion initiative, which is a finalist in the ‘Best Emerging Solution for Patient Safety’ category and identifies and manages children with severe asthma to prevent them from having to repeatedly come into hospital as an emergency admission.  

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s midwives played a key part in a project which is a finalist in the ‘Maternity and Midwifery Services Initiative of the Year’ category for work focusing on improving patient safety in the community. The Baby Lifeline charity’s ‘Community Midwife Bag’ project looked at the essential items that midwives need for home births and the best way to carry them.

The Trust’s Maternity department was chosen as one of the pilot sites for developing the bag with support from hospital and community midwives. Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Mr Kim Hinshaw, who is national Faculty Lead for Baby Lifeline’s BIRTH2 training programme which is offered free of charge to maternity units, was on the Baby Lifeline advisory review group that looked at the appropriate contents for the bag.

Melanie Johnson, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s Executive Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals, said:  “I am delighted for all of our finalists in the Patient Safety Awards, who thoroughly deserve this recognition.

“Patient safety is at the heart of all that we do and we are continually looking at ways in which we can improve it. It is fantastic to know that our staff are at the forefront of innovation which is improving safety and, hence, outcomes for our patients and also providing examples of good practice for services throughout the country to follow.”