Northern Care Alliance NHS Group revealed as finalists in three categories at prestigious national patient safety awards

28 June 2021

The Northern Care Alliance NHS Group been announced as a finalist in three categories at the prestigious Health Service Journal Patient Safety Awards 2021, shortlisted in a brand new category - the COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Award, as well as the Quality Improvement Initiative of the Year Award and the Improving Care for Older People Initiative of the Year. 

Teams in the Infection Prevention and Control, Microbiology, Pathology and Haematology departments have been recognised for their work including the successful trialling and implementation of safety measures in Emergency Departments to help protect patients from COVID-19 and the successful delivery of a pioneering new way of administering chemotherapy to patients in their own homes.  

IPC Excellence

The shortlisting for the COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Award follows the successful implementation of pioneering safety measures across the organisation’s emergency departments which were then later adopted nationally, during the second peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consultant Virologist, Dr Joel Paul, and colleagues from the Infection Prevention & Control, Pathology and Microbiology teams across the NCA introduced SD Biosensor COVID-19 lateral flow devices across the Group’s emergency departments in November 2020, successfully helping to detect the Covid status of patients needing to be admitted from A&E.  Patient Safety Awards 2021 - IPC.jpg

The decision improved care for hundreds of patients, enabling staff to move and isolate them safely, as well as improving bed management and patient flow, supporting the NCA’s established infection prevention and control measures and helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Dr Paul explains: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been shortlisted as a finalist in this prestigious award category after what has been a very challenging year, and during which our teams have worked incredibly hard. Greater Manchester has consistently had one of the highest rates and prolonged prevalence of COVID-19 and our IPC, pathology and clinical teams across Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Salford had to think differently and come up with a solution that would fit our local needs.

“This project was just one of the tools used by our organisation in addition to many other IPC measures introduced as part of our patient care, safety and experience, which not only ensured early diagnosis, but also ensured that quality and efficiency of COVID-19 diagnostics was not compromised.”

Lateral flow testing, whilst not as accurate as PCR testing, provides much faster results and so by using the rapid antigen tests the Emergency Department teams were able to identify around 70% of COVID19 positive patients within 30 minutes in A&E, which meant that patients could be rapidly and safely moved into an isolated COVID-19 area. The teams also continued to conduct parallel PCR testing alongside the lateral flow, ensuring any COVID-19 patients with a false negative reading were not compromised.

Within a few weeks, working collaboratively with teams across the NCA’s Information Technology, Quality Improvement and Business Intelligence functions, the clinical teams were able to show the improvement in patient flow from the ED and over the course of time, we were able to demonstrate a reduction in nosocomial transmission rates.

Medical, nursing and training staff members were also involved from the outset, offering practical guidance and troubleshooting any issues within the Emergency Departments, cascading information and taking any questions or concerns from the junior doctors and nurses.

The team presented their initial findings at NHS Public Health England’s National Virology Cell meeting in October and, by late December 2020, the process had been approved and launched for deployment in Emergency Departments across the country.
Libby McManus, Chief Nursing Officer for the Northern Care Alliance, said: “It’s fantastic news that the team have been listed as finalists for this award, which recognises their success in terms of improving patient safety during the pandemic. I am enormously proud of the team and this particular project was also very well received by our frontline clinical colleagues as a major tool in our fight against COVID-19. I wish them the very best of luck at the finals.” 

Chemo at home success 

Meanwhile the Haematology team at The Royal Oldham Hospital received two nominations in the Quality Improvement Initiative of the Year Award and the Improving Care for Older People Initiative of the Year Award for leading the way with a pioneering self-injection velcade treatment programme, designed to help train cancer patients to administer their own chemotherapy from the comfort of their own home.

The Royal Oldham Hospital was one of a handful of hospitals throughout the UK to introduce this exciting initiative for cancer patients last summer and findings have showed that there are a number of benefits for both patients and NHS teams.

Dr Satarupa Choudhuri, Cancer Lead for Haematology at The Royal Oldham, explains: “It’s fantastic news that we’ve been shortlisted and I’m so grateful for the contributions of the whole team to this project. Self-injection velcade is an exciting programme for us. We’re lucky to have had the support of the National Cancer Vanguard and Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group, who are both keen to support initiatives that help provide treatment closer to patients’ own homes.

The treatment is aimed at patients with myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer. Bone marrow cancer is the spongy tissue at the centre of some bones that produces the body’s blood cells. The cancer often affects several areas of the body such as the spine, skull, pelvis and ribs, which can make coming to hospital for regular appointments a challenge.

The treatment has brought a number of benefits for the Haematology team as well. Less demand for appointments from myeloma patients helping to free up waiting times and appointment slots for other patients to the unit. It’s proving to be a win-win situation for everyone.

Dr Choudhuri devised the plan for the self-velcade injection initiative after seeing how much time patients spent waiting at their clinic for a simple injection. She worked closely with the pharmacy department and other physicians at the hospital to establish the safety of the drug for self-administration at home.

Roger Prudham, Gastroenterologist and Clinical Director of NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme for Pennine Acute and Lead cancer clinician said: “This is fabulous news a huge  well done to everyone involved. Just being shortlisted as a finalist in these national awards is a huge achievement and I’m thrilled for the teams who have worked so hard to get to this stage. Great stuff!”

The finalists will find out if they have scooped the titles in their respective categories at the HSJ Patient Safety Awards on 20 September in Manchester.

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