The Royal Free London marked World Delirium Day by urging staff, patients and the public to talk openly about the condition.

Delirium is a word used to describe a change in brain function which makes a person become suddenly confused. The person may appear more agitated or emotional and their memory may be worse than usual and their speech may seem muddled. They can often seem frightened or angry and may experience hallucinations or hold paranoid or persecutory beliefs.

Dr Jo Hardwick, perioperative consultant at the Royal Free London, led the trust’s #SayDelirium campaign, which saw educational videos about delirium and how we treat it go out on social media throughout the week. A stall was held in the main entrance of the Royal Free Hospital on Wednesday 15 March, to mark World Delirium Day, where staff, visitors and patients were encouraged to learn more about delirium and wear a ‘say delirium’ badge.

Also for the campaign, Danielle Wilde, dementia lead, went around the wards at the Royal Free Hospital and Barnet Hospital training staff on how to treat patients who are suffering from delirium. Dr Hardwick also delivered talks about the condition at the Royal Free Hospital and Barnet Hospital grand rounds and there was a delirum webchat on the Royal Free London's website.

Dr Hardwick said: “People who develop delirium may need to stay longer in hospital or in critical care. They are also more likely to experience incidents of dementia, have hospital-acquired complications, such as falls and pressure sores. 

“This is why our campaign is so important, as delirium can be prevented and treated very effectively if dealt with urgently. We want staff to understand the importance of using a proper screening test for the condition and also alert carers to the signs to look out for.”

Dr Jo Hardwick, perioperative consultant at the Royal Free London

Thomas Merson, a patient at the Royal Free Hospital, said: “It is interesting to hear this information about delirium, as most people would just think that the person is confused and not treat it as a condition. 

“If more people know about this condition, then more doctors will be able to help the patients suffering from it.”


Images: image 1 - Dr Jo Hardwick and her team, and image 2 - Thomas Merson, patient at the Royal Free Hospital


Notes to editors

About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver and kidney transplantation, haemophilia, renal care, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, Parkinson's disease, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London. Read 'A bigger trust, a better future'.