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Nurses to alert consultants if patients with sepsis fail to respond within an hour

Hospital teams will also be instructed to take “sufficient note” of concerns raised by relatives.

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Hospitals must take action to reduce the toll of the ‘hidden killer’ sepsis.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan and rollout of the new national early warning score (NEWS2) system, health professionals will be obliged to constantly screen for sepsis and initiate the sepsis six as soon as it is suspected.

Hospital teams will also be instructed to take “sufficient note” of non-specific symptoms and concerns expressed by relatives and carers such as acute changes in behaviour.

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When patients are diagnosed and treated for suspected sepsis, hospital consultants should be ‘called for help’ if they fail to show signs of improvement within an hour.

Sepsis is caused when the body responds poorly to a bacterial infection and attacks its own tissues and organs, and while early treatment is effective, the condition is hard to spot because there isn’t a simple definitive test or obvious symptom for it which means that too often, treatment starts too late.

The initiative comes as the NHS prepares to pilot new clinical standards aimed at providing swifter diagnosis and treatment for patients with suspected sepsis.

Patients should be ‘seen as quickly as possible’.

Professor Bryan Williams, chair of the NEWS Development Group and Royal College of Physicians clinical lead for NEWS, said: “It is vital that patients with suspected sepsis are seen as quickly as possible, and this new initiative from NHS England is very important in ensuring we get the best opportunity to act quickly and save lives of people with suspected sepsis.

Dr Tim Nutbeam, Clinical Advisor for the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “The UKST welcomes this initiative; if delivered correctly it will ensure rapid and effective treatment for the patients who need it most, whilst ensuring that senior clinical decision-makers are supported in making informed, balanced decisions in relation to the prescribing of antibiotics.

“We have been working with NHS England for the past three years to improve the recognition and management of sepsis in hospitals. This next step will ensure that every patient receives the attention they require within existing resource.”

The new guidance has been drawn up by NHS England in collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of GPs, NICE and the UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) and trusts will be contractually obliged to ensure they fully comply with the guidance coming in from April 2019.

Acute Medicine

Hospital visitors and volunteers help to reduce nursing workloads, survey finds

Nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery.

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Two in five hospital patients get no visitors and require additional support from the nursing team.

Nurses working in acute hospitals feel that patients without visitors require additional support from the nursing team, according to a survey by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).

The survey also revealed that nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery in a number of ways. These include; they are less likely to be mobile (43%), less likely to be stimulated through conversation (56%) and less likely to follow medical advice.

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It is also estimated that around 37% are more likely to have a longer stay in hospital.

The RVS states that volunteers can step in and play a “vital role” in helping to reduce the nursing workload and freeing up staff for clinical care.

Over half of the NHS nurses questioned said a volunteer presence on ward was very important and that volunteers could help with patient care in a variety of ways. In particular, they referenced; providing non-medical support and assisting at mealtimes.

Double the number of volunteers in the next ten years.

Previous research published in a Kings Fund report also found strong support for volunteering among frontline staff.

With approximately 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England, volunteers are becoming more important to ensure patient receive care in a timely manner.

Following the NHS Long Term plan asking hospitals to double their volunteers in the next ten years and the recognition of the help they can provide by the NHS nursing team, RVS is calling on more hospitals to make the most of volunteers to improve patient health.

Sam Ward, Director of Commissioned Services for the RVS, said; “With results showing two-fifths of patients may not see a visitor during their hospital stay, it is clear that more is needed to be done to support them.

“Volunteers offer a professional support service, encouraging mental stimulation, physical activity, and more that can play a significant role in both mental and physical recovery.

“It is vital that hospitals work together with volunteer service providers to make sure that patients across the country are able to access this support.”

 

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‘Harmful’ prescription charges for asthma medication should be scrapped, warn nurses

The majority of nurses want ‘harmful’ prescription charges for people with asthma to be scrapped.

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Patients are at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks simply because they can’t afford their medication.

Hundreds of nurses called for ‘harmful’ prescription costs for people with asthma to be scrapped after seeing patients have an asthma attack or need emergency treatment because of the high cost of prescriptions.

A report published today by Asthma UK in collaboration with The Royal College of Nursing and Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, includes findings from a survey of more than 600 nurses in the UK as well as 150 other healthcare professionals including doctors, pharmacists, and paramedics.

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The research highlights the harmful impact prescription charges are having on people with asthma, putting them at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks because they can’t afford their medication.

Nurses reported patients borrowing inhalers from their friends, relatives or even their own children because they couldn’t afford to buy their own – putting them at risk of taking the wrong medication, or the wrong dose.

‘An outdated and unfair policy’.

One healthcare professional told Asthma UK that she had found the money herself to pay for her patient’s prescription because she was worried about them being unable to afford their life-saving medication.

A majority of nurses surveyed (92%) want ‘harmful’ prescription charges for people with asthma to be scrapped.

Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK and a qualified nurse, said:“It’s really worrying that nurses who are working so hard to help their patients stay well are seeing people with asthma suffer because of an outdated and unfair policy. It is high time the Government took action and urgently reviewed asthma prescription charges so that people with asthma aren’t put at risk of avoidable but potentially life-threatening asthma attacks. No one should have to pay to breathe.”

‘Only making their condition worse’.

Wendy Preston, Head of Nursing Practice at the Royal College of Nursing said: “It cannot be acceptable that some people with long-term conditions are missing out on their vital medication because they cannot afford it.

“Nurses see the impact of this every day of the week and know what happens when people do not take their vital medication.

“This will only make their condition worse and they will end up needing further treatment adding additional pressure the health and care system.

“It is time that there is equity with other long-term conditions such as diabetes where prescription charges are exempt.”

Asthma UK is urging people with asthma, nurses and other healthcare professionals to join its Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges campaign and sign its petition to end prescription charges.

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