Nurses and parents should collaborate to prevent deterioration in children's health

Launch of national resource for recognising and responding to young people at risk of health deterioration
Nurse and mother

Nurses are being urged to work closer with parents, as part of the first national framework to tackle deteriorating health in children and young people.

The safe system framework aims to address systems failures that can lead to children’s deteriorating health being missed. It was developed by NHS Improvement and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), in consultation with bereaved parents.

NHS England national director of patient safety Mike Durkin said it is essential that nurses and medics work more closely with parents to observe children’s behaviour from admission to discharge, and that parents should be supported to speak up if they feel their child’s health is deteriorating.

He said that too often parents worry about ‘time-wasting’ if they repeatedly voice concerns, or may feel they won’t be listened to. Dr Durkin added that it was imperative parents felt able to speak up.

Bigger picture

RCN professional lead for children and young people’s nursing Fiona Smith welcomed the framework. She said: ‘When children are ill, it isn’t just about recognising signs. This framework shows the importance of looking at the whole care system rather than just one piece of the jigsaw.

‘There are many factors involved in delivering the best outcome for a child, from the patient safety culture of the hospital to the way healthcare teams work together. This framework brings all the strands together in one cohesive way of working.’

She also praised the framework’s recognition of the need for parents to be treated as partners rather than bystanders in care: ‘Parents can often spot small changes that others may miss, and they should quite rightly play a key role in the care of their child.’

Six themes

The framework sets out a whole systems approach to tackle deterioration more effectively across six themes:

  • Patient safety culture.
  • Partnership with patients and their family.
  • Recognising deterioration.
  • Responding to deterioration.
  • Open and consistent learning.
  • Education and training.

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