The NHS is introducing a new early warning system to help doctors and nurses identify deterioration in children’s health more quickly.
This system involves tracking various health parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, and consciousness levels on a chart, with different scores indicating the level of concern.
While similar systems are already in use at many hospitals, it aims to provide a standardised process across all hospitals to ensure that health issues are detected and addressed promptly.
When a parent or caregiver raises a concern regarding a child’s health, the child’s care will be escalated, irrespective of any other clinical observations.
The NHS has collaborated with the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health and the Royal College of Nursing to develop this Paediatric Early Warning System over three years.
It has also conducted pilot programmes at 15 locations.
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Soon, the NHS will provide information to parents, through a leaflet and video content, helping them understand how to communicate their concerns to healthcare professionals.
The programme may incorporate guidance from Martha’s Rule as it evolves.
This system will operate alongside the existing National Early Warning System for adults, with plans to expand its use to mental health, ambulance, and community services.
It includes four separate charts, each designed for different age groups: 0-11 months, 1-4 years, 5-12 years, and 13 and over.
NHS national medical director Stephen Powis said: “The rollout of the National Paediatric Early Warning System has been years in the making and I know NHS staff and patients alike will welcome the introduction of this standardised system across hospital settings, allowing dedicated clinicians to observe, track and identify deterioration in children’s conditions to get them the help they need faster and more easily.
“We know that nobody can spot the signs of a child getting sicker better than their parents, which is why we have ensured that the concerns of families and carers are right at the heart of this new system with immediate escalation in a child’s care if they raise concerns and plans to incorporate the right to a second opinion as the system develops further.”