A trust claiming to have introduced the most rigorous patient observations in the country has jumped from having the worst death rates in its region to among the best in England.
A trust claiming to have introduced the most rigorous patient observations in the country has jumped from having the worst death rates in its region to among the lowest in England.
Nurses at North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust developed a system called “stop the clock” in which they stop whatever they are doing every four hours to undertake observations.
Early warning scores are flagged up on an electronic whiteboard and doctors join nurses on ward rounds, so each patient is seen by the right type of clinician.
This has helped the trust to increase the proportion of patients who are observed at an appropriate frequency significantly. It has risen from 69 per cent last February to 91 per cent this September.
Executive director of nursing and patient safety Sue Smith told Nursing Times: “I don’t think there will be a trust in the country that does it better.
“We had the worst mortality rates in the North East in 2008-09, now we’ve got the lowest in the North East and are in the best quartile in the country.”
The trust also only employs healthcare assistants who have undertaken its two year apprenticeship scheme.
Those who complete the apprenticeship and achieve the required standards move into healthcare assistant posts and are encouraged to undertake more advanced training, sometimes becoming registered nurses.
This has helped the trust reduce its reliance on temporary staff, meaning hardly any nursing agency workers have been used in the past three months.
Ms Smith said: “A couple of years ago, we had incidents where an auxiliary fed a patient who was nil by mouth.
“It made me ask ‘have we got people in our organisation who haven’t got the appropriate literacy and numeracy skills?’ We’re growing our own workforce and improving safety.”