Hospital trial aims to cut numbers of avoidable deaths among poorly children

Bedford Hospital's children's ward.
Bedford Hospital's children's ward.

Hospital staff are going back to basics with a trial that will save children’s lives by teaching medical teams how to communicate better.

The half million pound project aims to reduce avoidable error and harm to acutely ill children and strives to slash the 2,000 unecessary deaths each year in the UK.

It includes encouraing better communication among staff through ‘huddles’ - a 10 minute brief and frank exhange between those involved in a child’s care.

Bedford Hospital is one of eight new sites announced to join the scheme led by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

It also aims to give experts the skills to spot when a child’s conditon is deteriorating and to prevent missed diagnoses.

Consultant paediatrician at Bedford Hospital, Rishi Arora, said: “With current estimates suggesting that in the UK we have around 2,000 potentially avoidable deaths each year, there is a clear need to reduce avoidable error in childhood care, and so we are delight 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 UK is currently ranked among the worse in Western Europe for health outcomes in children and deaths among children are higher than others countries with a comparable health service.

Most recent data revels that despite the NHS being the best healthcare system in the world, the UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in Western Europe.

Dr Peter Lachman, clinical Lead for the trial called Situation Awareness for Everyone (SAFE), said: “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.”