Adopt new clinical assessment system, urges NHS

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NHS England is calling on all hospitals to adopt the ‘National Early Warning Score’ (NEWS) system for identifying acutely ill patients.

The NEWS score has been published by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and is endorsed by NHS England and the Royal College for Emergency Medicine, along with other emergency-care organizations. The scoring system aims to standardize the approach to clinical assessment across England.

It is estimated that the NEWS could save nearly 2,000 lives and more than 600,000 hospital bed-days per year. Under the system, patients will be assessed on their:

  • respiration rate
  • oxygen saturation
  • systolic blood pressure
  • pulse rate
  • level of consciousness or new confusion
  • temperature.

The assessment results are plotted on a chart which produces a score identifying the level of clinical care needed and the risk of deterioration for each individual.

Professor Bryan Williams, RCP Clinical Lead for NEWS, said: ‘We developed the NEWS to save lives in the NHS. The uptake and impact of the NEWS over the past 5 years has been extraordinary, and beyond even the most optimistic expectations, especially considering that there was no national incentive or directive to implement it…’

Medical Director at NHS England, Sir Bruce Keogh, noted that other global systems use ‘common standards and language’ to prevent disasters, and that this approach of standardization should be translated into health systems.

‘If staff move between hospitals and end up speaking at cross-purposes, warning signs are missed and patient care can be compromised.

‘I want to see every hospital in the country using the NEWS approach by 2019 as we continually strive to make sure the NHS delivers the highest standards of care possible.’