Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Mortality rates plummet with frequent patient observations


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.”


Readers' comments (4)

  • Welcome to the 'no s**t sherlock' school of headline writing!

    To be fair though, these do sound like positive ideas, making specific and protected time for regular clinical observations and ensuring Doctors actually come with Nurses on rounds, these are things many of us have been saying should have been happening for years! It is a good start. Now all this trust needs to do is implement a QUALIFIED staff/patient ratio and it may get that 91% up to 100%!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I couldn't agree more. There is evidence going back decades which shows that the best way to reduce in-patient death rates is to have a higher ratio of qualified Nurses. I'm sure that the observations are important but so also is the fact that all of the HCAs have completed two years of training. Hang on , isn't that the same length as the old enrolled nurse training ???????

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Wonderful storyline could even be used as a super incentive to create more posts for Nursing Staff rather than Admin'.

    After all that is what a hospital is for... isn't it?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The hospital where I had a placemnt had a MEWS system flagging patients and modifying obs regimes on hourly to 2 hourly... as needed. Worked well

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.