Patient Safety during COVID-19

For the coming months, in response to COVID-19, the Patient Safety Collaborative across North East and North Cumbria will concentrate its efforts on supporting the following key areas of work:

  • Managing deterioration
  • Maternity and Neonatal services
  • Tracheostomy care
  • Mental health
  • Medicines Safety

Managing deterioration

During the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated health care response across the UK, it has become clear that digital solutions will be a key resource in the assessment, treatment and care of those who have contracted the virus, but also those who are vulnerable to it, including the staff who provide their care and emotional support. In order to share learning and good practice The AHSN NENC and Yorkshire and Humber AHSN have taken a combined response to complete a scoping exercise across the 4 ICS footprints that both AHSNs cover.

This scoping exercise utilised AHSN capacity across the North East and North Cumbria and Yorkshire and Humber regions to identify, at CCG and ICS level, the current availability, type and capacity of digital kit being used in the care home settings, whilst being sensitive to the pressures that the care home sector, Local Authorities, NHS and Health and Social Care commissioners are currently facing. As such scoping was undertaken at ‘place’ level rather than care home level.

A report of the outcomes of this scoping exercise has been prepared and presents a potentially significant opportunity across the two AHSNs for connectivity and process enhancement to provide long term improvement in the care, consultation and treatments of care home residents, not only in the response and recovery phases of COVID-19 but also to support the care homes and health and social care sector in the forthcoming “Winter Pressures” planning.

Within the NENC and the AHSN NENC PSC workstream area we will be communicating the outcomes of this report by working with the NENC ICS workstream cell regarding a co-ordinated approach across the Health and Social Care system and the two mental health trusts and wider mental health voluntary and community services.

Mental health

The outcomes of the above scoping report will assist with aligning the AHSN NENC PSC Mental Health and Managing Deterioration workstreams and inform discussions with the Mental Health ICS NENC and the Mental Health Clinical Network NENC to develop baseline positions in the two mental health trusts across the NENC regarding the use of physical deterioration tools, supporting implementation where required.

111 Mental Health Support Team Service

The Mental Health ICS NENC in partnership with the North East Ambulance Service has been running a 111 Mental Health Support Team Service and early discussions have been had with the MH ICS lead to scope out how the AHSN NENC could support the ICS in evaluating the impact of this services on the members of the public who accessed it but also learning for the wider system and any potential of future development.

National Webinars: ADHD (QBtest) and Eating Disorder (FREED

ADHD (QBtest) and Eating Disorder (FREED), two of the AHSN Network’s national programmes held webinars in April which included discussions on how these programmes could support improving waiting times and access to services during COVID-19 and response and recovery periods. Resources from these webinars will be posted on NHS Futures and the AHSN NENC will work with the Mental Health Clinical Network and Mental Health ICS NENC on spreading these resources and planning how we will take these programmes forward in a co-ordinated way with the two mental health trusts and other key stakeholders, to support improved patient safety and outcomes.

Maternity and Neonatal services

It is vital that NHS services are able to evaluate what went well, what hasn’t gone well and what they would do differently as they approach the ‘recovery phase from the COVID-19 pandemic. The AHSN NENC is supporting maternity and neonatal services across the NENC region to do this by gathering information from trusts, using this to evaluate ways of working which have been implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AHSN NENC is then using this information to scope what the future of maternity and neonatal services might look like and assess the new normal.

In addition, the AHSN NENC is working with the Local Maternity System to develop film clips for pregnant women so they have quick and easy access to alternative support during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Tracheostomy care

It is anticipated that there will be an increase in patients requiring tracheostomies due to COVID-19. In anticipation of this increase, The AHSN NENC is currently undertaking a scoping exercise to understand which Trusts in the region use three key evidence-based tracheostomy safety interventions (bedhead signs and algorithm, bedside tracheostomy emergency equipment, and tracheostomy care bundle). This information will then be used to provide focused support (such as through sharing of resources and any additional help required) to those who currently do not have these in place.


Medicines Safety

The AHSN NENC medicines safety PSC workstream will provide support to teams and networks throughout the COVID-19 response with intelligence gathering and dissemination of information, helping to identify issues, capturing lessons learned and raising awareness.

The AHSN NENC is also supporting the COVID-19 response in Transfer of Care Around Medicines (TCAM) and Electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) as part of the Medicines Optimisation programme.