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Children helping research study that aims to improve future NHS care

Children who have to go to local Emergency Departments are helping a research study that aims to improve future NHS care.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is thought to be the largest yet in Greater Manchester and could eventually involve as many as 20,000 children and young people aged 0-16 years old. It is collecting information on routine observations, such as heart rate, temperature and breathing rate, to help experts develop guidelines to advise clinicians which children should be admitted to hospital and which could be discharged home or signposted to a different service.

Nurses in the department collect these routine observations when they are triaging patients and children won’t have to give any extra samples or have any extra tests or procedures. The study is taking place at The Royal Oldham Hospital and Fairfield General Hospital Emergency Departments and Rochdale Infirmary Urgent Care Centre.

These hospitals are managed by The Northern Care Alliance, an NHS Group that incorporates Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

Rachel Newport recently took her son, aged eight, to Rochdale Infirmary. She said: “I work in the NHS myself as a midwife so I know how important it is that we have all the right information when we are making decisions about people’s care.

“Henry read the information sheet and the posters that were on display around the department as well.  We chatted about the study together and he was happy about taking part as he knew that this would potentially help other children coming to hospital in the future.”

The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has been awarded more than £300,000 by the NIHR to carry out the study, which is being led locally by Professor Andrew Rowland, a Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine.

He said: “It is vital that children and young people are treated in the most clinically appropriate environments and that systems are in place to identify those who need to be admitted and others who could be reassured and allowed home or who could access other services.

“Observations on things such as heart rate, temperature and breathing rate will help us develop a tool to help clinicians make decisions based on really strong evidence – the more children and young people who let us use their observations, the better the evidence will be. These sorts of tools and checklists are widely used in all areas of the NHS to make sure we’re consistent in our decision-making and take all factors into account. Nothing painful will be done to children and young people who participate and the collection of their observations is already part of the routine things we do when patients attend our Emergency Care settings.

“This research has been designed in partnership with families and I am grateful to all of them and the clinicians who have been involved.”

No personal information collected in the study will be made public but patients or parents who don’t wish the observations to be included can choose not to take part if they wish.

The guidance being developed is called PAT-POPS – The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Paediatric Observation Priority Score – and follows on from the original POPS score, devised by Dr Damian Roland, Chief Investigator for the study at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Honorary Associate Professor in Paediatric Emergency Medicine at the University of Leicester. The current study is designed to refine the score so it will be better able to predict outcomes.

The PAT-POPS research group is a partnership between the Universities of Salford, Manchester, and Leicester together with The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is highly respected for its expertise in research to improve the care and treatment of children in the NHS. In the year 2017-18, more than 3,000 (3,208) children took part in studies through its hospitals, making the Trust the fourth highest recruiter to children’s research in England.

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