NHS Digital Pioneer Awards: winner profile

2017 Award for Digital Leadership


“Implementation of a clinical communication tool, aiding prompt recognition of deteriorating children and enabling Trust-wide visibility of all patients.”



Name: Sarah Newcombe
Role: Clinical Site Practitioner
Organisation: Great Ormond Street Hospital

A digital journey fuelled by passion
Sarah’s key motivation for engaging with digital interventions is a personal one. Her role at Great Ormond Street Hospital includes reviewing patients across the Trust that become unwell during their stay. When one patient was missed by the current system, Sarah’s determination to improve the recognition and response to the deteriorating child became her passion. She set out to implement a digital clinical communication tool for all members of the Inpatient Clinical Care Team encompassing electronic observations. The aim was to aid prompt recognition of deteriorating children and escalation to the Outreach Teams, enabling the CSP Team to have
Trust-wide visibility of all patients.

Engaging digital solutions for staff and patient benefit
Using a pre-existing system – Nervecentre – configured to suit patient’s clinical profiles, nursing teams now input observations via a mobile device and automated alerts are sent to relevant teams. The medical teams have patient details and observations to hand to aid clinical decision-making; the consultant group can access their patients from clinic; and the CSP team can identify the sickest patients within the Trust, enabling them to effectively prioritise workload.

Proven clinically and by audit to have benefited all groups of staff, safety benefits include: improved visibility of patients for all teams; improved response time of clinicians; plus, a full electronic audit of clinical tasks and observations ensures nothing is missed. Cost-savings include £12,000 per annum through elimination of 51,000 paper charts and associated scanning; 5,200 nurse hours per year; 50,400 Children’s Early Warning Score (CEWS) alerts per year at a cost of £77,070.

Supporting NHS staff and colleagues to engage with digital
Sarah has prioritised colleague engagement throughout, including running process-mapping workshops to identify where support was needed; holding pre go-live training sessions; offering a ‘mobile’ training room for real-time training; and initially providing 24/7 support to quickly identify any issues staff were having. In her role as CSP, Sarah was able to work alongside nursing teams to support and encourage colleagues every step of the way.

Scaling digital innovation
Following successful proof of concept, Sarah and her team spent six months rolling this system out. It’s now used in all ward areas across the Trust, with the exception of intensive care. Sarah now shares learning with other NHS Trusts through user forums and site visits. She welcomes other NHS organisations to contact her team to share lessons learnt and opportunities to spread innovation, both internally and cross-site.