A Consultant in children’s emergency medicine from the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA) is saying a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to more than 36,000 children who have helped with a huge research study – the largest in England this year – that aims to improve future NHS care.
Over the last year, children who have visited The Royal Oldham Hospital and Bury’s Fairfield General Hospital Emergency Departments and Rochdale Infirmary Urgent Care Centre have had information on routine clinical observations collected for the study.
These observations, such as heart rate, temperature and breathing rate, will now be used to help experts develop guidelines advising clinicians which children and young people aged 0-16 should be admitted to hospital and which could be discharged home or signposted to a different service. The results should be available later this year.
The NCA incorporates Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and provides services for over 1 million people.
The study is supported by a grant of more than £300,000 from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is led locally by Professor Andrew Rowland, a Consultant in Paediatric (children’s) Emergency Medicine and Honorary Professor (Paediatrics) at the University of Salford.
Professor Rowland said: “We are really grateful to all the young people and their families for allowing us to use these routine observations. 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.
“Although children and young people didn’t have to have any extra tests or procedures in this study, we appreciate that it can be stressful coming to hospital so it is really fantastic that more than 36,700 children were able to help with our study.
“With so many families agreeing to share this information with us, we now have really strong evidence to feed into our guidelines. 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.”
None of the personal information collected in the study will be made public.
Rachel Newport’s son Henry, aged nine, took part when he had to go 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 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 NCA and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
The NCA is highly respected for its expertise in research to improve the care and treatment of children in the NHS. This year it has recruited more children to studies than any other Acute Trust in England, including specialist children’s hospitals. As well as the PAT-POPS study, children have also taken part in research on asthma, sepsis, nephrotic syndrome and diabetes. The team also works with parents and babies on studies to help the health of new-born babies, including those born with infections.