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June 4, 2024

Royal Bolton Hospital to pilot ‘Martha’s Rule’ as part of NHS initiative to boost patient safety

  • Royal Bolton Hospital among 143 hospitals to roll out Martha’s Rule
  • Initiative aims to improve options for families to seek urgent review if patient’s conditions worsen
  • Evaluation of pilot rollout will help inform any future plans to expand

Royal Bolton Hospital is to test and roll out a major new NHS initiative to improve patient safety.

Martha’s Rule aims to provide a consistent and understandable way for patients and families to seek an urgent review if their or their loved one’s condition deteriorates and they are concerned this is not being responded to.

143 hospital sites are taking part in the initiative as NHS England work with the parents of Martha Mills, who died from sepsis aged 13 in 2021, having been treated at King’s College Hospital, London, due to a failure to escalate her to intensive care and after her family’s concerns about her deteriorating condition were not responded to.

Martha’s parents are helping to develop materials to advertise and explain the initiative in hospitals across the country, to ensure it is something that all patients, staff, and their families can recognise.

Dr. Francis Andrews, Medical Director at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said:

We are really proud to be able to take part in such an important initiative that will empower patients to raise concerns about the care of a loved one.

“We can never underestimate the value of clear and open communication with patients and their families and we hope this will be another significant step in improving the care we provide.

The initial target was to enrol at least 100 sites, but due to significant interest from frontline clinicians, this has been expanded.

The initiative will evaluated over the next year to help inform plans for any potential to expand it further.

Martha’s Rule is to be made up of three components to ensure concerns about deterioration can be swiftly responded to:

  1. An escalation process will be available 24/7 and promoted throughout the hospitals on poster and leaflets
  2. NHS staff will have access to the same process if they have concerns about a patient’s condition
  3. Clinicians will formally record daily insights and information about a patient’s health directly from their families, ensuring any concerning changes noticed by the people who the patient best are considered by staff.

More information about Martha’s Rule can be found on NHS England’s website.

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