Martha’s Rule on the way

The BRI and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children (BRHC) have been selected to test and roll out Martha’s Rule in its first year.

The purpose of Martha’s Rule is to provide a consistent and understandable way for patients and families to seek an urgent review if their, or their loved one’s condition deteriorates, and they are concerned this is not being responded to.

The scheme is named after Martha Mills, who died from sepsis aged 13 in 2021. She was being treated at King’s College Hospital, London. Her family raised concerns about her deteriorating condition following a cycling injury, but staff did not transfer her to intensive care.

The hospitals in University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust will implement the initiative  alongside another 140 hospitals, with the aim being to have the first phase of the programme in place by March 2025.

Evaluation of how the system works over the course of this year will inform proposals for Martha’s Rule to be expanded further across all acute hospitals, subject to future government funding.

Once the initiative is in place an escalation process will be available 24/7 at the BRI, Weston General Hospital and BRHC. NHS staff will also have access to this same process if they have concerns about a patient’s condition.Alongside this, clinicians will also formally record daily insights and information about a patient’s health directly from families.

Merope Mills and Paul Laity, Martha’s parents, said: “We are pleased that the roll-out of Martha’s Rule is off to a flying start and that the need for it has been so widely recognised.”

“It will save lives and encourage better, more open, communication on hospital wards, so that patients feel they are listened to.”