31 May 2024

Trust trials Martha’s Rule as Call 4 Concern

We are early adopters who are trialing ‘Martha’s Rule’, 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 addressed properly.

Staff nurse holding the hands of a patient

To support patients and families to understand the role of Martha’s Rule, we have named our local version of the scheme: ‘Call 4 Concern’ which we are trialing at Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne District General Hospital.

Martha’s Rule is named after Martha Mills, who died from sepsis in  2021 at the age of 13 in an NHS hospital in London, due to a failure of clinicians to escalate her to intensive care and after her family’s concerns about her deteriorating condition were not responded to.

Martha’s Rule is made up of three components to ensure concerns about deterioration can be swiftly responded to. Firstly, an escalation process will be available 24/7 at both of our main sites, advertised throughout the hospitals on posters and leaflets, enabling patients and families to contact a critical care outreach team that can swiftly assess a case and escalate care if necessary. Secondly, NHS staff will also have access to this same process if they have concerns about a patient’s condition.

Finally, our 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 our staff.

We recently completed a trial of Call 4 Concern on Cookson ward and Devas ward at Conquest Hospital, with positive feedback received from patients, families and our staff on the scheme.

Joe Chadwick-Bell, Chief Executive at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

“Martha’s Rule provides an important development as it supports families and friends in raising concerns when a patients condition deteriorates and seeking a second opinion should they want one. Our Call 4 Concern project not only supports those that use our services, but also provides our staff to engage with greater access to clinical specialists who can advise on the needs of patients whose condition declines”.

Call 4 Concern will be expanding across Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH over the coming months.