‘Martha’s rule’ will be rolled out in major NHS change to honour teen who died despite parents’ desperate pleas

A MAJOR rule-change allowing patients the right to a second opinion if their illness deteriorates rapidly is set to be brought to English hospitals.

The NHS will introduce “Martha’s rule” to at least 100 hospitals from April to give patients and their families access to a rapid review if they are worried about their or a loved one’s condition.

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The NHS will introduce ‘Martha’s rule’, named after Martha Mills (pictured) to at least 100 hospitals from AprilCredit: PA

The rule is named after Martha Mills, 13, who died from sepsis in 2021 after a failure to boost her intensive care despite her parents raising concerns.

Martha’s parents Merope Mills and Paul Laity said they are pleased the rule is being brought in “to prevent what happened to our daughter from happening to other patients”.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “I have no doubt that the introduction of Martha’s Rule has the potential to save many lives in the future.

“Hearing about the heartbreaking loss of Martha and the experiences of her family has had a major impact for people right across the country.

“I know I speak on behalf of all NHS staff when I thank Merope and Paul for their extraordinary campaigning and collaboration on this hugely important issue.”

Martha Mills died at King’s College Hospital in London after she was admitted for a pancreatic injury from falling off her bike.

In 2022, a coroner ruled she would have survived the sepsis — a deadly reaction to an infection — if doctors had spotted the warning signs earlier.

Her mum Merope had explicitly raised concerns about the condition to the medics but was ignored at the time.

Campaigning from Merope and Paul in the years since has helped build support for the new rule allowing patients or families to trigger an urgent clinical review.

They will have access to a different team in the hospital if the patient’s condition is rapidly worsening.

Hers was a preventable death but Martha’s Rule will mean that she didn’t die completely in vain

Merope Mills and Paul Laity

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “Martha’s death was a terrible tragedy, and I pay tribute to her parents Merope and Paul. 

“They have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the need to introduce measures that will help ensure that no family ever has to go through anything similar again.”

Patient safety commissioner for England Dr Henrietta Hughes said: “Martha’s Rule is a great step forward in the way that we listen to patients and families.”

In a statement, Merope and Paul said: “We are pleased that the implementation of Martha’s Rule will begin in April.

“We want it to be in place as quickly and as widely as possible, to prevent what happened to our daughter from happening to other patients in hospital.

“We believe Martha’s Rule will save lives. In cases of deterioration, families and carers by the bedside can be aware of changes busy clinicians can’t; their knowledge should be recognised as a resource.

“We also look to Martha’s Rule to alter medical culture: to give patients a little more power, to encourage listening on the part of medical professionals, and to normalise the idea that even the grandest of doctors should welcome being challenged.”

They added: “We call on all NHS clinicians to back the initiative: we know that the large majority do listen, are open with patients and never complacent – but Martha’s doctors worked in a different culture, so some situations need to change.

“Our daughter was quite something: fun and determined, with a vast appetite for life and so many plans and ambitions – we’ll never know what she would have achieved with all her talents.

“Hers was a preventable death but Martha’s Rule will mean that she didn’t die completely in vain.”

What is ‘Martha’s Rule’?

The head of the NHS has today announced the rollout of ‘Martha’s Rule’ in hospitals across England from April, enabling patients and families to seek an urgent review if their condition deteriorates.

The patient safety initiative is set to be rolled out to at least 100 NHS sites and will give patients and their families round-the-clock access to a rapid review from an independent critical care team if they are worried about their or a loved one’s condition.

This escalation process will be available 24/7 to patients, families and NHS staff, and will be advertised throughout hospitals, making it quickly and easily accessible.

Source: The NHS

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