Training to detect critically ill patients at trust

Scunthorpe General Hospital.
Scunthorpe General Hospital.

Staff at the trust which runs Scunthorpe and Goole & District hospitals are to be given training to spot deteriorating patients following concerns about mortality rates.

Clinical staff at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) will be given mandatory training on an ALERT course, which stands for ‘acute and life threatening events: recognition and treatment’.

The one day course teaches doctors and nurses to anticipate, recognise and prevent patients from becoming critically ill.

It comes after the trust was named earlier this year in the Dr Foster Hospital Guide 2012 as one of 12 health trusts where the number of patients dying was ‘alarming’. Trust bosses claimed some of the figures were out of date and fresh data showed mortality rates had improved.

The course includes patient scenarios covering many different conditions that staff may come across. NLAG is one of the first in the country to make it mandatory for all clinical staff.

Nick Harrison, clinical nurse educator at the trust, said: “This course recognises the importance of assessing and re-assessing patients who are at risk of becoming acutely ill and gives staff a simple, easy to use method of doing this. We have made the course mandatory so that all healthcare staff are using the same clinical assessment approach.”

Maggie Smith, clinical nurse educator, added: “We are also training people up to become trainers of the course so they can pass on the skills to other staff.”

Those working in acute areas will be prioritised as the training is rolled out and staff will be required to complete the course once every four years.

A similar half day course for healthcare assistants (HCAS) is also being introduced as mandatory. Created by the same people, the BEACH (bedside emergency care for health care workers) course was developed to train HCAs in basic techniques and give them the skills needed to recognise deteriorating patients.

Once staff have completed the training they are added to a national database, so if they move jobs they have evidence they have completed the course.

Karen Dunderdale, chief nurse at the trust, said: “It is vital that all of our clinical staff know what signs to look out for so that we can intervene as early as possible with these patients and prevent them from becoming critically ill.”

Liz Scott, medical director at the trust, said: “We are working very hard to do everything we can to improve our mortality position at the Trust and making this course mandatory is just one small part of this significant work.”