Current projects

We have a number of initiatives in place to improve patient care throughout the Trust. This page gives you an overview of some of these initiatives.

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Safety Thermometer

The NHS Safety Thermometer allows healthcare teams to measure harm and the proportion of patients that are ‘harm free’ during their working day. The NHS Safety Thermometer helps teams in a wide range of settings - from acute wards to a patient's own home - to measure, assess, learn and improve the safety of the care they provide.

The NHS Safety Thermometer allows teams to measure harm and the proportion of patients that are 'harm free' from pressure ulcers, falls, urine infections (in patients with a catheter) and venous thromboembolism during their working day, for example at shift handover or during ward rounds.

This is a point of care survey that is carried out on 100% of patients on one day each month and is possibly the largest patient safety data collection of its kind in the world. One of its most unique aspects is the concept of a 'harm free care' measure - the proportion of patients who are free from any of the harm measured. Using this 'composite measure' gives us a more positive view of the care we deliver, and ensures that we move away from thinking about harms in an isolated, or siloed way.

A national CQUIN incentivising the collection of data using the NHS Safety Thermometer Classic was in place throughout 2012/13 and has led to an incredible 180,000 patients being surveyed across acute and community-based care each month. In 2013/14, a CQUIN was established to incentivise demonstrable and sustained improvement in key safety measures - as measured by the NHS Safety Thermometer "Classic" - with a particular focus on pressure ulcer reduction. Organisations without stable baseline data were incentivised to collect further high quality data.

Sign up to safety

Listening to patients, carers and staff, learning from what they say when things go wrong, and taking action to improve patients’ safety.

'Sign up to Safety' is designed to help realise the ambition of making the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world by creating a system devoted to continuous learning and improvement. This ambition is bigger than any individual or organisation and achieving it requires us all to unite behind this common purpose. We need to give patients confidence that we are doing all we can to ensure that the care they receive will be safe and effective at all times.

You can find out about the Newcastle Hospitals Sign up to Safety pledges.

Clinical Accreditation Tool (CAT)

The CAT was introduced within Newcastle Hospitals as a Trust-wide tool to provide continuing clinical assurance to the Board as an overview of performance for each ward and Directorate. The CAT is one of the Trust’s methods of checking that the highest standards of patient care are met. 

Each month, around 180 clinical areas of the Trust complete a self-assessed electronic survey about a sample of their patients and staff – in most cases, completion of the tool is led by nurses (Sisters/Charge Nurses, Matrons, Clinical Leaders and others). Questions relate to subjects ranging from the cleanliness of the ward/environment, to observations of clinical practice, and from the testing of staff knowledge, to the completion of patient care documentation.

Four categories

The CAT has been divided into four categories: Environmental Cleanliness; Assurance Measures; Clinical Assurance; and Staff Knowledge. It has been tailored to specific areas of the Trust (Adult Inpatients, Outpatients, Theatres, Critical Care, Paediatrics, Dental, Maternity, Day Case, Community Nursing, Community Outpatients, Community Dental, Health Visiting and Occupational Health).

Every month, an email link is sent to each ward or department link-nurse, Matron or senior nurse. Once the staff have completed the CAT, they contact their Matron or senior nurse to inform her that the tool is now ready for completion of the cleanliness spot check section. The Matron is then responsible for the submission of the CAT. The CAT has also incorporated previously separate audits on hand hygiene and the matrons’ cleanliness spot checks.

User-friendly tool

We ensure that the CAT is a user-friendly, quick and easy tool to complete, releasing staff to perform essential nursing and patient interaction. As part of this pledge, an annual user evaluation survey is carried out to gauge how staff feel about the tool, with changes being made to the CAT on a six-monthly basis.

The scores from the CAT also contribute to a Care Summary, drawing together a number of different quality measures (nurse staffing levels, Friends & Family Test scores, complaints) as well as patient outcomes (healthcare-associated infections, falls, pressure ulcers, drug administration errors).  The Care Summary is designed to provide an overall picture of the nursing care issues at a ward, Directorate and Trust level.

To recognise clinical areas which achieve consistently high standards, “The ACE Award” (Acknowledging Continuous Excellence) was introduced. This award recognises achievement in each of the categories identified above and also for ‘patient experience’.

More information

For more details, please email: 

Dementia projects

We are committed to the Alzheimer’s Society's national Dementia Friends Initiative, and we encourage Trust employees to become Dementia Friends. To become a Dementia Friend, you can attend a face-to-face information session or watch the film clip on the Dementia Friends website.  

Forget me not scheme

Our 'Forget me not' scheme helps to improve communication with patients who have cognitive impairment (dementia and delirium). It was introduced across the Trust in October 2012 to help staff to provide person-centred care. 

The Forget me not card can be used for patients who have other communication difficulties, eg those who have had a stroke or those with learning disabilities. 

Strengthening the role of the Sister/Charge Nurse

The Sister/Charge Nurse role has been described as 'the guardian of care', but many feel that new management responsibilities have diverted their attention away from clinical quality. This change of the role over the years has raised problems of workload capacity, which has in turn affected recruitment and retention.

In Newcastle Hospitals, work has begun to examine the Sister/Charge Nurse role, and we have implemented initiatives to strengthen this role, including an induction portfolio.

More information

For more information about our current projects, please contact: 

  • Suzanne Medows, Senior Nurse - Practice Development
  • Tel: 0191 213 9414
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