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Black Country hospitals among the first to trial Martha's Rule

Four Black Country Hospital have been chosen to trial 'Martha's Rule' giving families the right to an urgent review if their loved one's condition seriously deteriorates.

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Martha Mills parents campaigned for Martha's Rule

New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton; Manor Hospital in Walsall; Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley and Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich are among the 143 hospitals to test Martha's Rule in its first year.

Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham are also part of what the NHS is calling 'a major patient safety initiative'.

This first phase of the programme will be in place at 143 locations across the country by March 2025.

The rule is named after 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 Rule is to be made up of three components to ensure concerns about deterioration can be swiftly responded to.

Merope Mills and Paul Laity, Martha’s parents, said: “We are pleased that the roll-out of Martha’s Rule is off to a flying start and that the need for it has been so widely recognised.

“It will save lives and encourage better, more open, communication on hospital wards, so that patients feel they are listened to, and partners in their healthcare.”

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Rolling out Martha’s Rule to over 143 NHS sites in this first phase will represent one of the most important changes to patient care in recent years, and we are pleased to have seen such interest from hospitals right across the country, all thanks to the moving and dedicated campaigning by Martha’s parents, Merope and Paul.

“That is why today is such an important milestone, with the NHS outlining the 143 sites where this major patient safety initiative will be rolled out later this year, allowing staff, patients and families to immediately raise concerns and bring about an escalation in care in an easily recognisable and fast way."

He added: “The inclusion of daily insights from families about their loved ones’ condition within patient records is also a really significant step and will help staff identify changes and deterioration using insights from those who know the patient best. While thankfully the need for escalation of care will hopefully only be needed in a limited number of cases, this three-step safety net has the opportunity to truly transform patient care and safety.”

NHS national patient safety director and senior responsible officer for Martha’s Rule, Dr Aidan Fowler, said: “Working closely with Martha’s parents and colleagues across the NHS over the last few months on this roll-out, I am in no doubt this programme will deliver clear change and it has been so encouraging to see how many hospitals have shown interest in being part of delivering these all-important patient safety measures this year."