Image of health professional with a child depicting the NHS's new paediatric early warning system

NHS launches new national paediatric early warning system

Paediatric care is set for a boost as the NHS launches a new early warning system so doctors and nurses know when children and young people’s health is quickly deteriorating.

The system can measure a range of different things such as blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels and consciousness.

The innovation is a result of over three years’ worth of work and collaboration between NHS England, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and the Royal College of Nursing.

While many similar tools already exist across the health service, this latest roll-out gives clinicians a national, standardised process for staff, patients and their families.

The system allows doctors and nurses to easily progress care and act on concerns from parents – for example, if a parent believes their child’s health is worse than their system score shows, care will be immediately escalated.

The national paediatric early warning system adds to the already existing tool for adults; the new innovation comprises four separate charts for age, including:

  • 0-11 months
  • 1-4 years
  • 5-12 years
  • 13 years and over

As the programme continues, the NHS will implement guidance from Martha’s Rule within the early warning system.

England’s chief nursing officer, Dame Ruth May, said: “This standardised method of tracking deterioration will improve working methods and safety, supporting doctors and nurses to do the very best for the children and young people in their care.”

She added: “With this initial roll-out taking place in hospitals, we are working towards extending this to other settings including accident and emergency departments, ambulances and the community in the future.”

Image credit: iStock

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