Barnet Martha Mills.pngHospital (BH) and the Royal Free Hospital (RFH) will, over the coming year, implement Martha’s Rule - a new patient safety initiative being launched by NHS England.

The new scheme will provide a consistent and understandable way for patients and families to seek an urgent review if their, or their loved one’s, condition deteriorates and they are concerned this is not being responded to by staff.

BH and RFH are among the first 143 hospitals in England to implement Martha’s Rule as part of the first phase of the programme. The scheme will be introduced at both hospitals at a later date this calendar year. 

Evaluation of how the system works will inform proposals for Martha’s Rule to be expanded further across all acute hospitals subject to future government funding.

The scheme is named after Martha Mills, who died from sepsis aged 13 in 2021 at King’s College Hospital in London. There was a failure to escalate her to intensive care, despite her family raising concerns about her deteriorating condition.

Martha’s Rule is to be made up of three components to ensure concerns about deterioration are responded to swiftly.

Firstly, an escalation process will enable patients and families to contact the patient at risk and resuscitation team (PARRT) who will assess patients and escalate care if necessary. Secondly, staff will also have access to this same process if they have concerns about a patient’s condition – this is already in place at both BH and the RFH.

Finally, alongside this, clinicians will also formally record daily insights and information about a patient’s health directly from their families, ensuring any concerning changes in behaviour or condition noticed by the people who know the patient best are considered by staff.

Deborah Sanders, chief executive of Barnet Hospital, said: “Martha’s Rule is such an important milestone, allowing patients and families to immediately raise concerns if they feel they are not being listened to. It will improve communication and help us better identify patients who are deteriorating – helping to ensure they get the care they need.”

Steve Spoerry, interim chief executive of the Royal Free Hospital, added: “I’m delighted that we will be implementing Martha’s Rule as part of this first phase. I’d like to pay tribute to Martha’s parents Merope and David who have campaigned so movingly to have this patient safety measure implemented at hospitals across the country, ensuring patients and their families are really listened to by staff.”

Image: Martha Mills