Earlier intervention cuts cardiac arrests at Leeds hospitals

The number of patients suffering heart attacks at the city's hospitals has reduced by almost a third in two years after a safety scheme was launched.

Sunday, 4th February 2018, 12:07 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th February 2018, 12:16 pm

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust saw a reduction in cardiac arrests on its wards of 31 per cent between 2015 and last year.

The number of times emergency teams had to be called by ward staff was reduced after the trust set up its Deteriorating Patient Collaborative.

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A specialist team which includes doctors, nurses and pharmacists was launched to help spot the signs of patients’ conditions getting worse so medics can intervene earlier.

Dr Ali Cracknell, associate medical director of quality improvement, said: “The strength of the group is that although it is comprised of people from different healthcare backgrounds, we all share a passion about ensuring patient safety and empowering staff to make the right decisions regarding patient care.

“Our success so far has been through pooling the expertise of staff from across the trust and continuing to learn along the way.”

Around 100,000 patients are admitted to wards at the trust each year, and the deteriorating health of those with complex medical conditions can put them at risk of cardiac arrest.

The Deteriorating Patient initiative was first set up in 2014 as a pilot scheme on 14 wards at the trust, and has since been expanded.

A team of outreach nurses, based at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s University Hospital, is on hand to make sure very ill patients get the intensive care they need as soon as possible.

As part of the project, ward staff display the number of days they have gone without calling emergency staff to deal with cardiac arrests. Last year the trust saw 108 fewer patients suffer cardiac arrests than in 2015. Dr Anna Winfield, who co-led the initiative, said: “Overall, the team is really proud of the success and have presented this work at national conferences, where there was a lot of interest in how this has been achieved.”

Leeds Teaching Hospitals said cardiac arrests fell by 31 per cent between 2015 and 2017 and by seven per cent between 2016.

In a report to the last trust board meeting, chief executive Julian Hartley said: “This is a fantastic improvement which has been sustained and continues to improve despite our pressures.

“It is important to remember that each of these numbers represent individual patients who have had improved recognition of deterioration or received better end of life care.

“Thank you to all our staff for continuing to implement the interventions and making year on year improvements.”


Leeds Teaching Hospitals has pledged to reduce sales of sugary drinks and offer healthier options.

The trust signed up to a voluntary scheme to limit the availability of fizzy pop which can lead to tooth decay and diabetes. Craige Richardson, director of estates and facilities said: “Visitors to our hospitals will see healthier, low sugar options in our vending machines and across our retail outlets.”

Around two thirds of hospital trusts have signed up to the NHS England scheme.