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A&E and sepsis are among Northumbria NHS trust’s priorities for the year

Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, one of the hospitals run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Picture by Jane Coltman
Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, one of the hospitals run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Picture by Jane Coltman

Reducing the number of people going to A&E and treating sepsis are among the priorities this year for hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside.

On Monday (April 23), a draft of the Quality Account for 2017-18 went before the board of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which is among the top-performing and largest geographically in the country.

As well as reflecting on performance over the past year, the document sets out the priorities for this financial year, with three being carried over (sepsis, frailty and flow) and two new ones (falls and aligning staff and patient experience).

The latter is described as ‘a unique development for the NHS and the first programme of its kind in the country’. The trust plans to measure and improve staff experience in the same way that it measures patient experience, as there is evidence of a strong link between the two.

Falls were previously part of the frailty priority, but will be dealt with separately this year in order to ‘raise awareness across all of our clinical teams of the need to improve the management of elderly patients who have fallen’.

The ongoing frailty priority is about improving care and the assessment of frail patients – important given our ageing population – and will also involve a review of the dementia strategy.

Flow, another continuing focus, is about ‘ensuring that patients are cared for in the right place at the right time, for the right duration by the right people’ in order to avoid bottlenecks and gridlock in A&E. The aim this year is to reduce emergency department attendances by around 70 per day.

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues. If not identified and treated quickly, it can lead rapidly to organ failure and death, and leaves thousands of survivors with life-changing disabilities.

In 2018-19, the trust wants to improve on its delivery of a treatment programme known as the sepsis 6 care bundle and make sure 95 per cent of eligible patients are screened for sepsis.

In the introduction to the report, chief executive Jim Mackey says: “Along with the rest of the region and the country, we have seen unprecedented demand for our emergency and urgent care services across this winter, with high numbers of very poorly people needing hospital admission.

“Our teams responded to these pressures by continuing to provide the high-quality care which we pride ourselves on, putting patient safety first. We are extremely proud of all of our amazing staff.”

Before the final draft is published, the document is circulated to stakeholders, including Northumberland and North Tyneside councils, for their comments.

By Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service